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Editor's Introduction vii 

War in the Twentieth Century Willard Waller 3 


The World War of 1914-1918 Harry Elmer Barnes 39 

The Peace o£ Paris : Europe Between Two Wars 

Walter Consnelo Langsam 100 


•J The Economic War Since 1918 Benjamin Higgins 135 

The World War and the Arts Frances Win war 192 

The Rise of the Soviet State David Krin\in 233 

The Rise of Fascism Clifford Kir}{patric\ 254 


Treaty Diplomacy Since the First World War 

Lamar Middleton 315 

{V How the War of 1939 Began Quincy Howe 336 



Economy in War Time Franz B. Wolf 363 

The State in War Time Max Lerner 409 

Propaganda and Public Opinion Ralph D. Casey 429 

War and Social Institutions Willard Waller 478 


The Prospects o£ Western Civilization Ralph Linton 533 

Notes on Contributors 558 

Index 561 


Europe — 1914 3^ 

Europe — 1920 34 

Europe — 1930 3^4 


Editor s Introduction 

Tn our moments of despair we sometimes liken the world we live 
-*- in to a lunatic asylum. The comparison breaks down because it 
is unfair to the madhouse; nevertheless the contrast remains il- 
luminating. A modern mental hospital is a sane, decent, well-ordered 
place. The only lunacy there is in the minds of human beings. A 
mental hospital is a sane society populated by madmen. Modern 
society, however, is thoroughly deranged, but the people in it are 
mostly sane. 

The madness of our world usually escapes observation because it 
is on such a fantastically large scale. Each one of us plays reasonably 
his part in the great human drama. We are all sane, more or less, 
but the play which we enact is utterly mad. In the years 1914-1918 
the civilized nations of the world staged the most gigantic holocaust 
of man-made destruction the world had ever seen. Millions were 
slaughtered; millions more were made homeless or fatherless; the 
destruction went on until starvation stopped it. It was a senseless 
bu .lery, but while it was going on we somehow deluded ourselves 
with the notion that a better world would come of it. How many 
times we uttered, with the orotund voice considered appropriate for 
such speeches, the words "not in vain!" 

Germany surrendered, and then came the peace, a bizarre combi- 
nation of idealism and cruelty. A reasonable man, when he has his 
enemy at his mercy, will either kill him or make friends with him. 
The victorious nations did neither. They were not hard enoucrh to 
nake a Roman peace nor kind enough to make a just peace. The 
so-called peace that followed the war was not exactly war and yet 
it certainly was not peace. The AlHes demanded reparations, but 
refused to accept the goods which furnished the only possible means 
/ment. Through tariffs, quotas, and other measures European 
' -.ons managed after the war to reduce their trade to the vanishing 
int, and through these devices, upon which their best minds ex- 
ided much thought, they greatly impoverished themselves as well 
J.S their enemies. International economic relations since 1918 furnish 


perhaps the best example in history o£ large-scale nose-cutting and 

Meanwhile strange and terrible tyrannies arose in various coun- 
tries. A ridiculous little neurotic who had been a house painter be- 
came the strong man of Europe. The post-Versailles world had given 
him his opportunity. Aided by hate and hysteria within Germany 
and profiting by the stupidity and cowardice of the leaders of other 
nations, he rose to a position where he held the peace of Europe in 
his hands. 

In 1939, European civilization entered once more upon its homi- 
cidal phase. The long-expected war at length materialized. The 
nations came to the end of their patience; they forsook the sweet 
reasonableness which had so eminently characterized their relation- 
ships in the past two decades and began to fight. In 1914 and again 
in 1939, the long files of young men marched off to war, and as they 
passed by the great men who were sending them into battle they 
raised their arms in the salute of those who were about to die. 

Lunacy can be understood, and, possibly, cured. Many scholars 
have in fact devoted themselves to the study of the war complex of 
our time. The difficulty has been that for the most part they have 
studied war as speciahsts, and have cultivated one phase of it inten- 
sively while neglecting the rest. Naturally, the findings of the spe- 
cialists are scattered through some hundreds of volumes written in 
technical language and known only to scholars. There is great need 
for a book in which these specialists will pool their knowledge for 
the pubHc benefit. With that end in view the present symposium has 
been arranged. Each of the contributors to this book has devoted 
special study to the aspect of war concerning which he writes. Each 
of them has tried to make his findings intelligible to the student 
and general reader who have not had extensive training in the 
subject treated. 

The subject of war in the twentieth century seems to develop 
itself in a rather logical manner through the essays which are here 
presented. In the introductory essay the editor discusses the subject 
in the most general form, dealing briefly with causes of war and 
then essaying an equally brief summary of what war does to society. 
There follows a secdon in which two historians, Harry Elmer 


Barnes and Walter Consuelo Langsam, discuss the War o£ 1914-1918 
and the developments in Europe under the peace which followed it. 
While we should suspend final judgment on these events, it is 
urgently necessary that we acquaint ourselves with the best-known 
facts and the best-tested interpretations that have been established to 
date. Barnes and Langsam have given us excellent factual treatments 
of their subjects. Wisdom dictates caution and temperance in draw- 
ing conclusions from these facts. As to war guilt, we should be sadly 
in error if we continued to believe the myths which were circulated 
by the Allies during and just after the war, but it would probably 
be equally erroneous to attempt to "whitewash" the pre-war German 
Government. It is clear that the Treaty of Versailles has had much 
to do with producing the present situation, but it is probably a mis- 
take to regard it as solely responsible for the ills of Europe since 
191 8. It is only fair to warn the reader that historians have not at- 
tained anything resembling unanimity of opinion with regard to the 
interpretation of many events in the period under study. In deaHng 
with this difficult material, both Barnes and Langsam have chosen 
the wiser course of sticking closely to demonstrable facts. 

In the succeeding section, four specialists discuss the cultural and 
political aftermath of 1914-1918. The essay on "The Economic War 
Since 1918," by Benjamin Higgins, advances the subject by describ- 
ing and analyzing the preposterous economic practices which pre- 
vailed between 191 8 and 1939. The contribution of Frances Winwar 
tells in charming fashion the story of the effect of the war upon 
literature and the arts. Fascism and Communism, heritages of this 
period, are treated in separate essays by Clifford Kirkpatrick and 
David Krinkin. Most Americans regard these fantastic tyrannies with 
a thoroughly understandable repugnance, but we ought nevertheless 
to inform ourselves about them. With regard to the essays on these 
subjects, it should be noted that their authors have tried to account 
for these phenomena by seeking their causes, but that this does not 
necessarily involve any justification of them. When a social worker 
makes a case study of a delinquent boy, showing how he became 
a thief, she does not necessarily approve of stealing. Likewise the 
aim of Kirkpatrick and Krinkin in their studies has been to under- 
stand but not to defend the institutions under scrutiny. 


The two succeeding papers take up the thread of history once 
more, dropping it when the cannons begin to roar in 1939. Lamar 
Middleton's discussion of the changes in treaties and in the tech- 
niques of diplomacy further develops our theme. Quincy Howe 
then gives us a crisp account of the outbreak of war. 

Modern war, we say, is total war. It is total in several senses, total 
almost any way you look at it. Every citizen must co-operate to the 
full and must run the risks of combat. Every economic resource must 
be fully utilized. The hate behind the war tends to be total, and 
established restrictions on the conduct of war tend to go by the 
board. Every available weapon must be used in such a war, including 
the very convenient and effective weapons of falsehood and propa- 
ganda. In the next series of essays, the implications of total war for 
various social institutions are described and analyzed. Franz Wolf 
deals with the economics of war time states concisely and authori- 
tatively. Max Lerner discusses the state in his usual arresting manner. 
Ralph D. Casey tells the story of propaganda in war time. The editor 
of the symposium then tackles the task of tracing the effects of war 
upon other social institutions. 

In the concluding essay, Ralph Linton discusses the probable effect 
of the War of 1939 from the long view of the anthropologist. By 
setting the events of war in their long-term perspective, he con- 
tributes incisive new insight. 

Such a book as this has the advantages and disadvantages peculiar 
to the symposium form. Its greatest advantage is that every subject is 
discussed by someone who can lay claim to some special knowledge. 
It would be next to impossible for any single author to discuss com- 
petently all of the subjects which this book takes up. A certain dis- 
continuity and some overlapping of subject matter are unavoidable 
in a symposium; these, however, have been minimized, so far as 
possible, in editing the material; and such duplication as remains has 
been retained because it was considered useful. A further advantage 
of the symposium form is that it gives the reader the benefit of 
several points of view. Where much of the material covered is con- 
troversial in nature, this open-forum aspect of the symposium treat- 
ment is particularly useful. No attempt has been made in editing to 
attain any unanimity of opinion, because the editor felt that the clash 


of opinion was valuable. Such agreement as exists among the various 
writers — and there are in fact wide areas of agreement — is wholly 

Certain omissions will also be noted by the careful reader. There is 
nothing about the numerous wars that have taken place outside 
Europe during the twentieth century. There is only passing mention 
of such episodes as the Spanish war or Italy's Ethiopian adventure. 
These omissions are regrettable, but necessary; the volume is already 
long and would exceed all reasonable limits if such material were 
included. It will also be noted that the book is focussed upon the 
social aspects of war, so that discussion of military affairs is slighted. 
This emphasis is intentional; the reason for it is that the editor feels 
that the military side of war has been adequately treated in countless 
volumes while the social side has not. Besides, the social aspects of 
war are more important than its military aspects. We can not learn 
very much about war by studying battles. If we would really under- 
stand war we must know how its roots spread through the whole 
of our society, we must know what dislocations it produces in every 
social institution, and we must try to conceive of the changes which 
it works in the lives of every adult and every child of the warring 
nation; by comparison with such things, battles are insignificant. 

WiLLARD Waller 
Barnard College, Columbia University 






Willard Waller 

What most of us would like to know about war is why it hap- 
pens and whether it can be prevented. This is a simple and 
very important query, and one to which the social sciences have not 
sufficiently applied themselves. There are a great many theories 
about the causes o£ war, each of which has some merit. Let us ex- 
amine each of these theories in turn, and see whether we can arrive 
at an understanding of war. 

Perhaps the simplest theory and the most widely held is what we 
may call the moralistic theory.^ Wars are made because bad men 
make them. When a people goes to war, it commonly believes that 
it is fighting because the wicked leaders of the other people have 
precipitated the battle by an attack upon a peaceable folk. When 
the war is over, it often turns out that the supposedly wicked 
leader of the enemy was only an intensely patriotic citizen who 
tried to further what he considered the legitimate interest of his 
country in the way that seemed to him best. Sometimes, indeed, a 

■"■ One should observe the distinction between the moral interpretation and 
the moralistic interpretation. The moralistic interpretation is that wars are 
made because bad men make them, a thoroughly unsound view. The moral 
interpretation, in terms of the mores, would explain war as resulting from a 
conflict of moral systems, and would be vasdy more plausible. 



wicked leader or an irresponsible fanatic does comes to power and 
does start a war, but there are still many things that require ex- 
planation in such a situation. What pecuHar set of political processes, 
what extraordinary moral or economic factors, brought such a per- 
son into power? How was he able to impose his will upon other 
leaders ? Why did the masses follow him into war ? What delusions 
did they harbor and how did they come by them? There are, in 
fact, enough of these subsidiary questions to invalidate the moralistic 
theory of war altogether. Such a theory is valid only for purposes of 
propaganda. To say that wicked men make wars does not help us 
very much. It is well to remember that we nearly always find out 
afterwards that such beliefs were false. 

Another moralistic view is that wars are made to right wrongs 
and to remedy evils. Germany precipitated the War of 1939 in 
order to redress the wrongs perpetrated by the Versailles Treaty. 
The North fought the South in our own United States in order to 
free the Negro and aboUsh the institution of slavery. There is some 
merit in this explanation, at least as regards the participation of the 
average man. Most men must believe their cause is just if they are 
to be good soldiers. This moralistic explanation, however, calls for 
another explanation before it tells us very much : How did men come 
to have these moral ideas and to consider them worth fighting 
for? Why did the northern half of the United States discover that 
slavery was wrong? The fact is that in most wars both sides pas- 
sionately believe in the justice of their cause. There are earnest and 
God-fearing men on both sides; neither side has a monopoly of 
right. If we are to understand war, we must seek to discover the 
forces behind morality. 

A second theory may be labelled the psychological theory. Men 
fight, it is said, because they have an instinct of pugnacity. It is born 
in them: men fight for the same reason that bulls fight, because 
they are fighting animals. A major weakness of this instinctivist 
explanation is that it is certainly very doubtful that there are any 
instincts at all in human beings. Even if we have instincts, there is 
Httle evidence of an instinct of pugnacity. Suppose we grant that 
there is an instinct of pugnacity— a very large concession— it still 
does not follow that this instinct causes wars. There are many 


channels by which the instinct of pugnacity might be expressed 
much better than in war. The pattern of conflict pervades our hves. 
If we wish to find an outlet for our alleged instinct of pugnacity 
we may do so by quarrelling with our families, falling out with 
our colleagues, writing a letter to the newspaper, booing somebody 
on the screen, bullying a waitress, attending a prize fight, by suing 
somebody for something, or in countless other ways. 

War itself, as anybody knows who has seen military service, is an 
extremely poor way of fulfilling one's combative instincts. Many sol- 
diers never see the enemy; most of them never come to grips with 
him in close quarters. When fighting occurs, it is a mass affair, with 
little opportunity for individual hates or heroics. The soldier usually 
does not see the man he kills. He fights men he has never seen 
before, men whose very names he does not know, men for whom 
he can hardly have an intense personal hatred. The soldier's life is 
for the most part spent in a rather dull routine of training, physical 
labor, movement from place to place, and waiting. And it is marked 
throughout by subjection to discipline. Modern soldiers have httle 
chance to "drink delight of battle with their peers." Indeed, if a 
soldier has a highly developed instinct of pugnacity, it probably 
does not make him a better soldier but a worse one. A soldier is 
always under orders; if he gets angry easily, he becomes a discipline 
problem to his officers. Nor is his lot a happy one if he cannot 
stand the rough give-and-take with his fellows. Furthermore, if 
there is an instinct of pugnacity, we must suppose that it is universal 
among men — but there are peoples which do not know war. And 
we must suppose, if wars are caused by the instinct of pugnacity, 
that a once-warlike people will always be so — and yet we know that 
this is not true. The Scandinavians, for example, were once the 
scourge of Europe, but now they have become pacific. What has hap- 
pened to their instinct of pugnacity.? Suppose, however, that we 
pass over all these objections, it still remains true that the theory of 
an instinct of pugnacity explains only one small part of war. It 
explains why men fight. It does not explain why nations go to war, 
which is an important part of the problem. 

If war is the result of an instinct, then we must always have 
wars, because it is not feasible to change the instincts of man. If, 


however, there is no instinct of pugnacity, or that instinct is not 
indissolubly tied to war, then it may be that in a better organized 
society there will sometime be no war. Proponents of the instinct 
theory of war are chiefly found in very conservative groups. Such 
persons are so well satisfied with the world as it is that they dislike 
to think that it could ever be changed in even the smallest particu- 
lars. If it would be possible to have a world without war, then who 
knows what other innovations might come? 

Another theory of war is that it results from the pressure of popu- 
lation upon the food supply. A group of people with an unrestricted 
birth rate remains for some generations within the same territory, 
which in time becomes crowded. The population then flows over 
into surrounding regions under the impulsion of hunger. There is 
a measure of truth in this theory. There have been wars for which 
the pressure of population furnished a principal cause. The great 
tribal migrations and far-flung conquests at the dawn of history 
seem to have been conditioned in large part by population pressure. 
There have been a great many wars in which the pressure of popu- 
lation was a contributing factor. More often than not the pressure 
of starvation is the ostensible reason for a war, while other and more 
decisive reasons lie hidden in the background. We remember the 
case of the Helvetians in the day of Julius Caesar. Their reason for 
disturbing the peace was that such a mighty people should not be 
confined within such narrow boundaries, but behind all this was the 
scheming of the crafty Orgetorix and who knows what other 
practitioners of power politics. This situation, in essence, has been 
repeated many times in human history. 

Before we regard population pressure as a principal factor in war, 
we must explain a number of facts which seem, to say the least, 
peculiar. In the first place the nations which have the greatest 
amount of population pressure are often singularly pacific. China 
and India are densely populated, and, by common report, over- 
populated, but, at least in recent times, they have bred no swash- 
bucklers to demand Lebensraum with a rattle of the sword. Again, 
the nations which give population pressure as a reason for aggression 
frequently proceed to relieve the pressure by annexing or sub- 
jugating some even poorer and more populous region. How does 


this remedy the pressure of population upon food supply? Further, 
those very nations which profess to need room for their existing 
population are most anxious to keep up the birth rate. It is also 
quite possible for such nations to reUeve the pressure of population 
by encouraging permanent emigration to other less populous nations, 
with, of course, loss of nationality, but in fact every attempt is made 
to combat permanent settlement of nationals abroad. How does this 
make sense.'' 

The fact is that population pressure alone does not make a people 
warlike. When a nation experiences some pressure of population 
on the food supply, and has also the peculiar economic and social 
structure of militarism, imperialism, and nationalism, the pressure 
of population becomes an important factor in the causation of war. 

A pseudo-Darwinian theory of war perhaps deserves passing men- 
tion, although it is less an attempt to understand the causation of 
war than a justification and glorification of it. The essential notion 
of this theory is that war aids the survival of the fit, and is therefore 
a eugenic factor of the first importance. This is quite untrue. War 
ki lls off the fit, and leaves the lame, the blind, and the halt to re- 
p roduce the race. Only the physically fit can"^et into the armies 

and run the risk s of combat. A long series of wars rna'y, "therefore, 
l ower t he p hysical stan dards of a populatTon considerably. War is 
not a eugenic factor in human societj. 

The Economic Interpretation of War"^ 

The so-called economic interpretation of war is widely accepted, 
and in fact has considerable merit. It is more nearly able to stand 
on its own feet than any of the interpretations examined so far. 
Unfortunately, a great many people believe that the economic in- 
terpretation of war is a complete explanation which stands in no 
need of supplementation from other sources, that it contains all 
that need be known about the causation of war, that it is, in short, 
the one and only valid theory of war. 

The proponents of the economic interpretation of war usually 
begin their argument by demonstrating the necessary connection 

^ A more extensive discussion of the economic interpretation of war is 
given in the essay below by Higgins, "The Economic War Since 191 8," 


between capitalism and imperialism. Capitalism, the system of pro- 
duction for private profit, developed in the highly industriaUzed 
nations, necessarily leads to the production in every nation of more 
goods than can be sold there. Under the spur of competition and 
production for profit, capitalism expands the productive plant al- 
most infinitely, so that it becomes necessary to find foreign markets. 
This surplus, composed not of more goods than can be used within 
the nation but of more than can be disposed of on the domestic mar- 
ket, must be sold in some way; it is therefore urgently necessary to 
find a market abroad. But foreign trade with other highly indus- 
trialized nations results in a mere exchange of goods; it does not 
dispose of the surplus of manufactured goods. The search for markets 
therefore turns to the less developed regions of the world, to pre- 
dominandy agricultural countries, to peoples who lack manufac- 
turing and machine guns. Several reasons conspire to cause the 
capitalists of industrial nations to strive to control the trade of 
these less developed portions of the earth's surface: the desire to 
dispose of a surplus of manufactured goods, to secure raw materials 
at a low price, to exploit the labor and economic naivete of less sophis- 
ticated races, and to build up highly profitable investments in the 
virgin natural resources of countries on the edge of civilization. 
There is thus a powerful drive toward the control of less advanced 
regions implicit in the structure of industrial capitalism. This is the 
reason for the desire for colonies; this is what is behind the demand 
for "a place in the sun." 

The economic interpretation of war then goes on to show that 
where business interest leads, the state must follow, for the state 
is only the "executive organ of the ruling class." And the ruling 
class, of course, is composed of the nation's leading businessmen. 
It happens inevitably that the business interests of leading nations 
must often clash in the attempt to control particular areas. When 
two imperialistic powers come into serious competition, war fre- 
quently results. And when the less developed nations resist the rule 
of the great powers, war may also result from that. 

There is certainly a great deal of truth in this interpretation of 
war. There have been many imperialistic wars in the past few cen- 
turies. A principal cause, certainly, of the World War of 1914 was 


the clash of British imperialism and German imperial aspirations. 
The European nations have also fought countless big and little 
wars in order to reduce other peoples to colonial status, for the task 
of ruling all races was thought to be "the white man's burden." 

Some wars fit this classic picture of imperialism perfectly; others 
show fragments of it. In other words, the economic interpretation 
of war fits many of the facts of some wars, and it fits some of the 
facts of nearly all wars. The American Revolution was a war by 
means of which colonies which had developed some economic 
independence finally put an end to their colonial status. The Civil 
War involved, among other things, a conflict between rival economic 
systems; the industrialism of the North, whose leaders wanted a 
tariff, and the plantation economy of the South, whose leaders 
demanded free trade. In order to get the Civil War into the picture 
of imperialistic conflict, we should have to regard it as a clash be- 
tween the industrialists of the North and those of Great Britain for 
the control of the South; and this is certainly a bit strained. The War 
of 1 812 and the Mexican War were motivated in part by imperialism, 
but in each case it was largely an agrarian imperialism; industrial 
leaders and merchants had little part in either conflict. In yet other 
wars, we can find only traces of the generally accepted picture 
of imperialistic war. We may find one class controlling national 
policy in terms of its own self-interest, either by precipitating or 
avoiding war. An economic analysis of the political process is often 
reveaHng in the extreme, showing as it so often does that men vote 
as they believe their interest indicates. This is true not only of issues 
of war and peace but of other issues as well. 

In recent years we have heard much of a sort of primitivized 
economic interpretation of war. Wars, it is said, are promoted by 
munitions makers in order to create a market for their wares; these 
merchants of death gladly sell arms to the enemies of their country 
and even stir up national rivalries in order to promote business. For 
other writers, international bankers play the same Satanic role. 
Enough unsavory facts are known about members of each group to 
lend some credibility to this view, but it may be doubted that their 
influence has ever been sufficient to start a major war. We must 
remember that both the munitions makers and the international 


bankers o£ the United States were recently investigated by the 
Senate, and that this investigation, in the judgment of most ob- 
servers, disclosed little evidence that either group had very much 
to do with involving the United States in the first World War. 

We must concede that the clash o£ rival economic systems fre- 
quently initiates the friction between nations which later leads to 
war and that it also sustains this conflict by affording a fresh supply 
of incidents. Economic interest also supplies influential groups with 
a powerful motive to promote war. While admitting all this, we 
must insist that economic factors are not the only factors involved 
in war. A multitude of things not covered by this theory must 
necessarily enter into any war. There are always moral and senti- 
mental elements, for men must love their country before they are 
willing to die for it; most soldiers are not very brave unless they 
feel that their cause is just. We shall shortly call attention to a 
number of these non-economic factors in war. 

While admitting the presence of these moral, or "ideological," 
factors in war, the orthodox economic determinist insists that eco- 
nomic factors are always dominant, and that morals and ideology 
assume the form which economic interest dictates. Here again we 
are faced with a proposition which contains some truth, but not 
the whole truth. Morality is influenced by economics, but it also has 
an independent existence of its own. Standards of right and wrong 
are not altogether dependent upon self-interest, and sometimes 
morality runs contrary to economic interest. It seems to the eco- 
nomic determinist that economics is the prime mover in society; 
it maizes things happen, and other than economic phenomena 
merely change to conform to economic interest. This notion is 
simply an optical illusion. The economic determinist starts with 
the economic factor, and tries to discover changes in other social 
phenomena conforming to changes in the economic sphere. The 
changes actually occur, but it is erroneous to believe that the eco- 
nomic factor ma\es them happen, or that the economic factor is 
not itself determined. If one started with, say, moral ideas, one 
could make just as impressive a case for morality as the prime mover 
of society; one could find a vast array of changes in other social 


fields conforming to changes in moral ideas. If one starts with 
scientific knowledge, he may see the entire course of human history 
as a function of the growth and development of the various branches 
of science. Such interpretations are all equally valid and all equally 
false. The truth is that all phases of society are closely interwoven; 
they hang together in nature and can only be separated in the mind 
of the scientist, and there imperfectly. It is therefore false to say 
that one of these aspects of society dominates over all the others. 
A person who is accustomed to studying one factor in social change 
naturally comes to overestimate its importance, whether the factor 
he studies be economics, geography, morality, the family, science, 
education, or technology. The economist's one-sided view of society 
can be matched with unilateralisms from all the fields mentioned and 
from many others; taken together these views furnish an admi- 
rable corrective for one another. If speciaHsts could reaHze how 
easilv they fall into. error m erely because they know so much about 
one of the aspects of s ociety, there would be a great gain in our 
understand ing of societ y. 

There are yet other reasons for believing that the economic in- 
terpretation of war does not account for it in its entirety. The 
majority of the men who fight the battles of any war have little 
or no economic interest in their outcome; frequently they are fight- 
ing against their own best interests, but there is no record that they 
are any less valiant because of that. The economic interpretation 
may sometimes explain why great men make wars, but it does not 
tell us why humble men fight in them. Again, it is probably true 
that in any war a great number of business men have little stake, 
and in some wars the majority of business men stand to lose more 
than they gain. Why does the economic interest of one group pre- 
dominate over the interest of other groups.? If we explain why one 
economic interest triumphs over another and greater interest, are we 
not already outside the field of economics? Further, there are many 
wars for which the clearest economic reasons exist, and yet these 
wars do not take place. One must explain why certain wars, such 
as an imperialistic war against Mexico by the United States, never 
come off. In order to answer these questions, one would be forced 


to consider so-called "ideological" factors in some detail, and perhaps 
to grant them equal importance with the economic factor. 

It is sometimes argued that the economic interpretation of war 
is the one correct interpretation because some economic interest 
can always be found in every war. Since the economic factor is 
always present, therefore it must be the one true cause of war. This 
is utterly fallacious. The fact that there are always economic ele- 
ments in any modern war proves nothing at all; certainly it does 
not prove that the economic elements in the war make it happen. 
Our economic life is now so complex and ramifying that many 
citizens are bound to profit by any conceivable rearrangement of 
our life and many others to lose by it. When the economic conse- 
quences, with profit to some and loss to others, of changing the date 
of the Thanksgiving holiday by one week are so considerable as to 
start a nation-wide controversy, we can see how great the effect of 
a war may be. When the matter of war with some nation comes up 
for discussion, those who would profit by it naturally attempt to 
promote it, and it thus seems that they have brought the war about. 
But these people did not make the war; at most they merely helped 
it along. 

Although the economic interpretation of war affords some illumi- 
nation, its popularity is greater than its merits seem to warrant. It 
is popular, no doubt, partly because of its simplicity and because 
its proponents are kind enough to advance it in a way which does 
not invite doubt or inflict upon the listener the pain of a divided 
mind or the torture of suspended judgment. Again, it is a theory 
which supplies for some persons the need for a personal devil; the 
men who make wars, the merchants of death, the grasping traders 
and the international bankers, are obviously very wicked men, and 
it is a pleasure to hate them. Perhaps the greatest advantage of the 
economic interpretation is its essentially hopeful character. If wars 
are the product of capitalistic imperialism, then we may hope to 
do away with them in a society in which capitalism has been re- 
placed by another form of economic organization. The economic 
interpretation is thus justified in part by its relation to a program 
of action rather than on purely intellectual grounds. 


Elements of a Theory of War 

We have now passed in review a number o£ theories of the 
causation of war. Each of them contains some truth, but not the 
whole truth; each of them accounts for the phenomena of war 
only in part. The interpretations reviewed are particularistic. Each 
one holds fast to a bit of truth, but denies the truth of other ex- 
planations. Obviously, a really valid theory of war must not deny 
the operation of economic or other factors; it must rather show how 
these economic factors operate in conjunction with other factors in 
a larger social setting. Someone has said of the drama that the 
dramatist must learn not to look at life through the eyes of the 
drama but at the drama through the eyes of life. So the social scien- 
tist must learn to correct the bias of speciahsm by studying life itself. 
As we have seen, one of the most striking things about modern 
war is its total character. It is total war, total in several senses. It 
aflects the totality of society. Above all, its causes are deeply rooted 
in the whole of modern society; every institution, every ingrained 
morality is likely to be in some way a cause of war. As difficult 
as it would be to tear sin from the heart of man, so difficult may it 
prove to remove war from modern society. We sometimes strive 
to characterize the age in a single phrase; we say it is the age of 
machines, or the age of science, or the era of humanitarianism; we 
say that our culture is extroverted or that our civilization is always 
catching its trains. It would be more justifiable to say it is the age 
of war. European civilization in the twentieth century has to date 
always been getting ready for a war, fighting a war, or recovering 
from a war. And these modern wars are not fought by a few adven- 
turous young men in armor or by a handful of hoodlums in pro- 
fessional armies. Everybody fights nowadays. Everybody makes 
war. Anybody may become a casualty. Any valid theory of war, 
therefore, must consider the fact that it grows out of the totality of 
our civilization. 

As a step toward framing an inclusive theory of the causation of 
war, let us list the elements which such a theory would need to in- 
clude. We may list the following: 
Indoctrination with warli\e attitudes. Wars would not be possible 


i£ men would not fight, and men would not fight if they had not 
somehow acquired fighting attitudes. These attitudes are implanted 
in us by suggestions in the years of our youth; they remain latent 
for some time, and are later called forth by the appropriate stimuli. 
Such attitudes are the idea that war is glorious, the creed, Duke et 
decorum pro patria mori, the identification of one's quite personal 
self with the prestige of his nation, the idea of the self-determination 
of peoples, the notion of national honor, and so on. These attitudes 
are inculcated upon the young by all the agencies of the family 
and the community. In the schools children learn a highly provincial 
sort of history: our country has always been right; our flag has 
never been sulHed by defeat and it has never been raised in an un- 
just cause; our heroes were braver than those of other nations; we 
are a glorious people. Such is the history that the child learns in 
almost any country. If the history teacher makes any departure 
from the customary fictions, there are plenty of persons to remind 
him of his duty. In our family life there is likewise much trans- 
mission of mihtary attitudes; he who fights is a hero and he who 
refuses to fight is a slacker. It is the tradition of our family that 
the Blanks have always been brave soldiers; your grandfather was 
a major; your father won the Croix de guerre \ and your uncle's 
sword hangs over the mantel. In the United States various veterans' 
organizations have taken special charge of the task of training chil- 
dren to be patriotic; unfortunately, the leaders of such organiza- 
tions often promulgate a jingoistic brand of patriotism. The church 
likewise cooperates in inculcating warlike attitudes, in spite of some 
tenets of the Christian religion which are opposed to war. The 
culture complex of war ramifies in such a way throughout the 
whole of the culture that it would be virtually impossible to rear a 
child to maturity without inculcating the attitudes of the potential 

The economic system. The economic system of each leading nation 
is so constructed as to bring that nation into competition with others 
for the privilege of trading with and building up investments in the 
less developed regions of the world. The contacts between nations 
which result in international incidents and wars are usually in some 


way related to this process of competition. This is the well-known 
pattern of capitaHstic imperialism. 

The agencies controlling public opinion. The development of a 
war psychology in a democratic people is made possible in part by 
the character of the agencies controlling public opinion. The press, 
radio, church, and school are not merely agencies which perform the 
functions usually attributed to them; they are also attention-getting 
agencies, and from this ensue certain consequences with regard to 
war. These agencies are necessarily conducted by persons striving 
for the attention and approval of the public. Thus a newspaper, 
when an international incident has occurred, must play up the 
conflict element in order to sell its papers. Similarly, the radio 
commentator must uncover and disseminate interesting informa- 
tion, which must often mean information which inflames public 
opinion. As a crisis gains momentum, more conservative agencies, 
such as the school and the church, must fall in line. Since all these 
agencies strive for social approval the stand taken must be strongly 
"patriotic." The competitive nature of these agencies of opinion 
brings it about that if any leader of opinion fails to act in the man- 
ner described he will shortly be replaced by someone else. The situ- 
ation is similar to the economic situation which is said to compel all 
employers to exploit labor if their competitors do so. 

Self-appointed agitators. Many unattached or only partially at- 
tached individuals become self-appointed agitators and lead public 
opinion toward war by stimulating discussion of war. In striving 
for attention and approval, such persons take an extreme stand. 
Many of them are minor politicians and politicians out of office who 
use this occasion as a means of self-aggrandizement. It hardly seems 
necessary to add that most of these self-appointed agitators are sin- 
cere patriots. 

Propaganda. Propaganda from interested parties contributes to 
the general effect. While its influence should not be underestimated, 
it seems likely that propaganda alone does not suffice to involve a 
nation in war. Propaganda must work on pre-existing attitudes, and 
it is probably powerless to reverse established social trends. 

Classes. Growing antagonism between social classes may lead 
to an attempt, more or less consciously planned, to deflect this 


hostility within the group to objects outside the group. A social 
class or a pohtical party which finds itself losing its hold may 
attempt to create a war psychology in order to stabilize internal 
conditions and perpetuate itself in power. When anciently the 
people grumbled, their leaders gave them bread and circuses or they 
gave them war. We have now improved upon this old custom, for 
modern war combines elements of both these ancient remedies. 

Frustrations of individuals. Individuals obtain release from their 
frustrations and internal tensions by the creation of a war psychology. 
They react to, say, a Panay incident with a vast wave of emotion 
not generated by the incident itself but only exploded by it. They 
find in the idea of war a release from their daily routine and an 
opportunity to discharge repressed emotions. In venting their wrath 
upon the enemy they momentarily forget and perhaps partially 
redress the balance for bullying employers and nagging wives. 
The spacing of wars in time, the manner in which the war psy- 
chosis develops in a people, and the analysis of motivations of 
leaders all seem to show a relation between the causation of war and 
the Hfe cycle and inner states of individuals. Social machines such 
as the R.O.T.C. and plans for industrial mobilization may help 
to create war because of the expectations which individuals build 
up and hope to realize in the event of war. The economic situation 
also produces certain effects by working directly upon the psy- 
chology of individuals; prolonged hard times certainly predispose 
a people to the outlet of war. It seems certain that the depression of 
the 'thirties has had much to do with developing the warlike spirit 
throughout the world today. 

Idealization of past wars, including the last. Immediately after 
the conclusion of a war, there are many persons who realize its 
futility and are conscious of its terrible cost. As time goes on, the 
memory of its unpleasant phases fades from the picture, and its more 
glorious aspects, its tales of heroism and sacrifice, remain. Those 
who died in the war are at length forgotten or remembered only 
through a euphoric haze; those who were impoverished by the war 
come in time to the end of their struggles and its cripples pass out 
of sight. The survivors, moreover, grow old and slowly forget their 
hardships; they remember only the glorious days of their youth. 


Rationalizations emerge which overcome the sense of futiHty. The 
injustices o£ war or of a peace settlement may after a time come to 
seem less cruel, for a new set of folkways and mores arises in adapta- 
tion to the changed conditions created by the war. Or exactly the 
opposite reaction may appear, and the injustices done to a defeated 
nation may come to seem like something that has no parallel in 
human history. This is particularly likely to happen in the develop- 
ment of opinion in the nation that loses the war. Here, again, ideali- 
zation is in play, but it is negative rather than positive. The desire 
to be avenged for a Versailles Treaty or for the loss of a province 
may thus be a potent factor in causing another war. 

In the field of international relations it should be noted that each 
nation's acts by way of preparation for war are interpreted by itself 
as legitimate measures of defense but by its neighbors as a threat 
against their safety. A circular process is thus released which leads 
to ever greater expenditures for armament, an armament race, and 
this produces concomitant changes in public opinion. 

To this total picture should be added some conception of the 
workings of the military machine in each nation. The general staffs 
of armies have in fact great political influence, and are usually 
aligned with industrial and political groups which also have both 
influence and power. In fact, alliance with such groups is often very 
useful to politicians, even in times of peace and in the most peace- 
loving nations. 

War and Social Interaction 

All of the elements which we have mentioned undoubtedly have 
something to do with the causation of wars. They set off processes of 
change in society which unite with one another to form the major 
process of going to war. We may say that in the last analysis wars 
result from movements of public opinion which the factors men- 
tioned combine to create. We have wars because we develop war 
fever. The process of going to war may be thought of as a sort of 
spiral movement of public opinion which is largely beyond control. 
The war process is like certain phases of the economic system : no one 
wills it, and yet the totality of the process is the result of the inter- 
action of many wills. No one wills that prices shall go up or down. 


as a rule, and yet they move in response to certain conditions created 
by a multitude of individual choices. Nobody effectively wills that 
we shall go to war, and perhaps nearly everyone ardently desires 
that we shall not, but everyone does his part in bringing a war about. 
A newspaper, for example, writes headlines and publishes pictures 
which inflame the public mind, and at the same time argues strongly 
for peace on its editorial pages; no doubt the editorial comment 
represents the editor's sincere belief, but in the end the headlines 
and the pictures win. 

The interpretation of war as produced by the development of war 
fever in a people is, of course, subject to numerous qualifications. It 
is most true of democratic nations, for in such countries war occurs 
only when the majority of the people demand it. But even in a dic- 
tatorship, a war must be sold to the populace. A modern dictator is 
only a kind of demagogue who adds the arts of the propagandist to 
the ancient weapons of the tyrant. He rules by consent and suf- 
ferance under the Damoclean sword. So that he, too, can wage only 
those wars which his people can be induced to support. 

The Milling Process ' — yi^ — . 

It is obvious, too, that the growth of war fever is subject to law. 
It is a response to economic, cultural, political, social, psychological, 
and other factors. We may say that these factors co-operate in pro- 
ducing war in more or less the way in which chemicals combine to 
produce diflerent compounds. We may gain a clearer idea of the 
process of combination by studying the way in which wars usually 
start. The typical process of going to war may be described as 
follows : 

Conflict begins (if under the international conditions of the past 
few years it may be said that it ever has a beginning or an end) with 
certain crises between nations, "incidents," in which there is a defi- 
nite clash of the power systems of two or more nations. Such 
incidents are usually occasioned, directly or indirectly, by economic 
competition, but other than economic elements rapidly become in- 
volved in them. 

These incidents set ofT definite conflict, which, however, remains 
within bounds, that is, it is not so great that diplomatic machinery 


is unable to handle it. The power systems of the two nations con- 
front one another for a time, and there is difficulty in preventing 
conflict without loss of face by one side or the other. Public opinion 
in each nation comes to regard the other nation as a potential 
enemy. When the conflict subsides into diplomatic interchange, it 
leaves the situation substantially changed. Each side has now ac- 
quired a heightened sensitivity to affronts or challenges from the 
other. On each side the public appetite for news of conflict has 
been stimulated. One or both sides may feel that they have lost face. 
In consequence it is much easier for new incidents to occur. 

As a result of such a crisis preparations for war increase on both 
sides. This helps to build a war machine which in time stimulates 
the war psychology. In addition, this program is interpreted by other 
nations as a threat to their security. 

There now ensues a series of "incidents," each of which leaves the 
nations involved somewhat closer to war. There is a recognized drift 
toward war, a process which we may compare to the milling of a 
herd of cattle getting ready to stampede. In each nation the follow- 
ing changes of public opinion tend to take place: 

The agencies which control public opinion fall in line in favor of 
war. Newspapers print an increasing amount of news in which the 
conflict is featured; headline writers and makeup men give promi- 
nence to news which previously went on the inside pages, and 
editors blue-pencil domestic news in favor of news of the current 
crisis. Politicians make issues on the basis of foreign policy; domestic 
issues are forgotten. Self-appointed agitators keep the populace 
stirred up; they create what the politicians call a ground-swell of 
opinion. Among the agencies controlling opinion, the church and 
the school are probably the last to take a stand for war. Sooner or 
later, however, the ministers and the teachers discover that this war 
is different; this is a holy war. 

There is a gradual growth of myths about the other people, a 
depersonalization of the people and a personification of their gov- 
ernment. A vicious stereotype is substituted for other conceptions of 
the potential enemy; cartoons portray him as a bestial figure; he 
often comes to be known by names denoting derision and hatred. 
The first atrocity stories often appear at this time. 


War fever gradually takes possession of the masses. There is an 
increasing loss of objectivity in discussing the issue of war or peace. 
Attention is rapidly deflected from internal affairs and directed to 
foreign affairs. Needed internal reforms go by the board because 
they come to seem of minor importance. Individuals identify them- 
selves increasingly with the nation, and feel that each new incident 
is an affront to their quite personal selves. 

This process may be hastened by propaganda emanating from 
interested parties. In any case, war fever affects different classes, 
regions, interest groups, religious and cultural groups, in different 
ways and to different degrees. Some groups necessarily take the 
lead in the agitation for strong measures or for war. A vociferous 
minority often forces into line a majority which at first regards the 
war passively. 

What apparently happens when a warlike climate of opinion de- 
velops is that certain propositions get established as unquestioned 
truths, and everyone accepts them because everybody else accepts 
them, and it comes to be regarded as bad form to question them. 
Biased news reports and propaganda furnish a multitude of sug- 
gestions which are hard to resist. In addition, these suggestions are 
reenforced by the powerful sentiments of loyalty to one's country. It 
becomes a sort of patriotic duty to believe the current slogans. Gradu- 
ally people become angry, and as anger mounts, their minds close, 
and they hear arguments against their wrath most reluctantly: 
they believe ill of the enemy because they ardently desire to believe 
it. It is not strange that the average citizen should be helpless in such 
a situation. It is quite understandable that he should be caught up 
and swept along. It does seem a little odd that the leaders of the 
people should apparently offer so little resistance to the winds of 
opinion. In general, the intellectual leaders of the various peoples 
do not cover themselves with glory when war is in the offing. The 
disturbance of reasoning during the milling process is seemingly 
so subtle and insidious that even those persons who but a few 
years or a few months before were violently opposed to war now 
come to believe that this particular war is both necessary and de- 
sirable. None of their beliefs concerning war in general has changed, 
but this war is an exception to the rules. This war is different. Like 


the man who has been in love ten times before, they beUeve that 
this time it is real. 

New methods of communication, particularly the radio, seem to 
have greatly expedited the miUing process. They seem also to have 
given it certain new dimensions. A fighting speech unifies one's own 
group, but if it is heard in other countries as well, it may also unify 
the opposition. When a Hitler speaks, the world is his audience, and 
the effect of his words on this larger audience is great. It is not, cer- 
tainly, what the German government ought to desire, for the belli- 
cose expressions of a Hitler may do a great deal to alienate the 
world from himself and his people. The contrast between the crisis 
of 1914 and those of 1938 and 1939 is explicable in considerable 
part as the result of modern methods of communication. 

Involvement of Neutrals 

Once a war has begun between two major powers or groups of 
major powers, there is a tendency for the conflict to spread, other 
nations taking sides until every great power in the world is in- 
volved. Every country must go through something of a milling proc- 
ess before deciding to join in. The gradual involvement of the 
United States in the Napoleonic Wars and the World War of 1914 
illustrates this process nicely. The forces determining whether neu- 
trals shall become involved, and on which side, are many and 
varied. Neutrals generally tend to take the side of the nations with 
whom their economic ties are closest. Both sides interfere with the 
normal flow of economic processes, and there are sharp struggles 
over neutral rights. If trade is principally with one belligerent, then 
the other belligerent is cast by nature for the role of the interfering, 
meddlesome, and ruthless enemy. Loans and investments play an 
important part, although their influence has sometimes been ex- 
aggerated. Still there can be no doubt that if loans are made to one 
belligerent, a vested interest in the victory of that belligerent is thus 
created. Modern warfare is particularly likely to spread because of 
its economic ramifications; in fact, through blacklists and such de- 
vices, it enters neutral countries immediately after war begins. 

It is also true that a nation tends to take the side of the belligerent 
to which it is culturally and morally most akin. The Germans, for 


example, appear to regard the participation of civilians in the de- 
fense of their country as the worst of crimes. They make no secret 
of their ruthless treatment of such civilians, whom they call franc- 
tireurs. It happens that the American does not regard such actions 
as crime; he cannot help thinking of the Belgian or Polish jranc- 
tireurs as brave men defending their homes against the invader. 
When he sees a picture of a Polish woman franc-tireur before a 
German court-martial, awaiting almost certain death, his sympathies 
can hardly be on the side of the Germans. The picture referred to 
was no doubt intended to prove that the Poles were guilty of 
"sniping," but that is not what it proves to the average American. 
It is worthy of remark that such pictures should be released by the 
exceedingly clever German propagandists. Evidently the art of the 
propagandist does not enable him to span the gulf created by pro- 
found moral differences between nations.^ 

Stages of War 

Once a war has begun, a major war which strains the resources 
of both contestants, it seems to go through several well defined 
stages. This is particularly true of war on its mental and social side. 
A modern war resembles a siege in many respects. It is a long- 
drawn out ordeal which gradually wastes away the combatants. At- 
trition is not, of course, purely physical; morale may be consumed 

^ In a recent article Professor Sidney B. Fay lists the causes of American in- 
volvement in the War of 1914-1918 in the order of importance as follows: (i) 
Disregard of American rights involved in the German submarine policy; 
(2) German methods in beginning and conducting the war; (3) Anglo-Saxon 
tradition and sentiment, and native American idealism; (4) Allied propa- 
ganda, successful in part because of the above factors; (5) Economic influences; 
(6) Fear for our own ultimate safety. In discussing his second point. Fay 
speaks as follows: "The German methods in beginning and conducting the 
war: German militarism; support of Austria in luly, 1914; invasion of neutral 
Belgium; severities or 'atrocities' which were caused by the panicky feeling 
of German officers in Belgium and Northern France but which were often 
deplored by German soldiers, as we know from their captured diaries; deporta- 
tion of Belgians to forced labor in Germany; introduction of poison gas; blow- 
ing up of American bridges and munition plants; and finally the Zimmer- 
man Note with its spurlos versen\t and proposed incitement of Mexico." In 
the course of this essay Fay also takes occasion to state his opinion that the 
importance of Allied propaganda and of economic motives has been consider- 
ably exaggerated. Sidney B. Fay, "Recipes for Neutrality," The Saturday 
Review of Literature, Vol. XXI, November 4, 1939, pp. 3 flf. 


as well as men and goods. The first World War displayed a clearly 
marked sequence of stages. These stages are demarcated and 
analyzed below. Although it is possible to find a somewhat similar 
pattern in many other wars, perhaps it is best to claim no more for 
this formulation than that it accurately represents the course of the 
World War of 1914 and suggests certain phases of other wars."* For 
convenience, the sequence of stages is stated in a general form. 

War really begins with the milling process which leads to war. 
After the miHing process, the World War of 1914 developed by the 
following stages: 

The declaration of war terminates the milling process, coming 
when war fever is at its height. This final step is greeted with a 
strange medley of emotions from which elements of pleasure are 
not absent. The war releases in the individual a number of emotions 
founded on the frustrations of his daily life; for any routine of life, 
however gratifying on the whole, involves a considerable amount of 
denial of natural desires, and any change, even a disaster, releases the 
individual from some of these blockings. In addition, there is a re- 
lease of tribal emotions from massing and exerting the power of the 
group: people commonly believe that the war will be brief and 
glorious. People have a sense of participating in events of historic 
importance. The formal declaration of war is greeted with cheers 
and apparent rejoicing. (This phase of war is quite rudimentary 
in the War of 1939, probably because of the recency of the previous 
war, the wide diffusion of knowledge concerning the nature of mod- 
ern war, and the fact that the mores have undeniably changed.) 

With mobilization of troops come the first disruptions of the 
normal pattern of family and community life. With this begins also 
the bifurcation of life into civilian and military channels. While the 
soldier learns to look at war and the enemy in a professional manner, 
the civilian reaches and maintains a higher pitch of hatred. 

In the War of 1939 these dislocations of life, as described by the 
current newspapers, prove more far-reaching than any that have 
occurred before. In the first months of the war hundreds of thou- 

* Extensive evidence in support of the generalizations given here may be 
found in the succeeding essays. Since these essays were written independentiy, 
the agreement is altogedier genuine. 


sands of schoolchildren are taken out o£ the big cities and put in 
boarding homes in the country under the supervision of their 
teachers, that is to say, they are taken from their famihes and given 
to the state. Men are taken out of industry, women substituted; and 
skilled labor diluted with unskilled labor to the danger point. Indus- 
tries are redirected into war channels and put on a basis of maximum 
production. Cities are blackened; amusements greatly restricted; 
private automobiles confiscated or rigidly controlled; the entire 
transportation system reconstituted; food is rationed, and hundreds 
of other changes established overnight by executive fiat. The pat- 
tern of international trade is shattered and another set of arrange- 
ments is quickly substituted; every nation in the world must re- 
adjust its economy or suffer scarcities and stagnation. 

The Organi'^ation Phase 

Each nation then struggles to organize itself for conflict. There is 
a period of intense tribal emotionalism, the flag-waving period. 
During this stage any orator or actor has only to point to the flag 
in order to insure a successful reception for his performance. The 
nation passes sedition laws, suspends civil rights, hunts spies, perse- 
cutes harmless citizens thought to be in sympathy with the enemy, 
changes the names of cities and streets, refuses to teach the language 
of the enemy or to play Wagnerian opera, and indulges in other 
fantastic displays of solidarity and hatred. National life regresses 
toward the tribal level. The tribal morality, marked by hatred for 
the enemy and solidarity within the group, now becomes strongly 
entrenched and imposes itself upon everybody by means of its insin- 
uating persuasions and Draconian penalties. New techniques of pub- 
licity help to make the nation's leaders members of every family, 
and thus to bind the nation together into a close, cohesive group. 
One hundred percentism, the desire for unanimity characteristic of 
the close-knit, intimate, face-to-face group, now appears and rapidly 
pervades all phases of life, even those only remotely connected with 
the war. 

Once started, war tends rapidly to become total in all senses. 
Restrictions on the conduct of the war disappear rapidly; hatreds 
grow; economic and social involvement becomes complete. "We 


must win the war" — before this slogan all other objectives fade. 
Intensive propaganda is now unleashed in order to mobilize the re- 
sources of the nation. Business as usual gives way to business or- 
ganized and directed by the government for the purpose of war. 
There are numerous economic readjustments. Inflation rapidly takes 
hold and prices rise. These economic dislocations, of course, tran- 
scend national boundaries, and are felt in neutral nations almost as 
much as in nations at war. 

The effect of disruptions of family and community life begins 
to be felt. There is a shortage of able-bodied men at home. The first 
casualty lists are pubhshed and have a sobering effect. The many 
frustrations of war routine rapidly become irksome. The gap between 
the mentality of the soldier and the mind of the civilian becomes 
accentuated. The soldier idealizes home and civilian life. Institutions 
such as the school and the church are disorganized. 

Changes in the moral equilibrium of the community now begin 
to become apparent. War produces a real awakening of humani- 
tarianism within the group. Several explanations of this incon- 
testable fact seem plausible. Hatreds and antagonisms are deflected 
to objects outside the group. The enemy outside the group is so 
threatening that everyone forgets his enemy within the group. 
Members of the group are bound together by co-operative endeavor, 
by struggling against the common foe, and therefore sense their in- 
terdependence. War accentuates certain social problems, and it be- 
comes clear to leaders of the community that something must be 
done for the submerged classes. Perhaps the mere accumulation of 
pitiable cases leads to the determination of individuals to do some- 
thing for human welfare. There is also a bargaining aspect; under- 
privileged groups obtain certain concessions by a sort of unspoken 
bargain in return for their support of the war. 

Wartime humanitarianism and increasing national solidarity 
sometimes produce strange changes in the status of individuals. Lib- 
erals and reformers, for example, are in time of peace unpopular 
dissenters from most of the established creeds by which the nation 
lives. When war comes, people suddenly find themselves in agree- 
ment with these dissenters on many matters of internal policy and 
plan to carry out liberal reforms just as soon as the war is out of 


the way. Liberals, on the other hand, find themselves for once in 
complete agreement with the national objective, which is to win the 
war; to this end they gladly surrender those personal rights for which 
in time of peace they struggle unceasingly. Liberals may become 
very popular indeed in time of war; war is a great time for liberals, 
if a poor time for their cause, for the achievements of wartime 
liberalism are in fact either doubtful or shadowy. All of this con- 
tributes to the breakdown of liberaHsm in the period of post-war 
reaction. There are always, of course, a few liberals, radicals, and 
dissenters who decline to declare a truce on matters of reform and 
oppose the conduct of the war. They suffer intensely during the 
period of war, and may count themselves fortunate if they do not 
pay with their lives for their opposition to the national program. 

The influence of the soldier and the soldier's morality also begins 
to be observable. Vices and virtues of the military life are not those 
of civil life. The soldier's morahty is primitivized. Since monogamy 
is hardly ever the soldier's strong point, many violations of sex 
morality occur. Consumption habits are also modified; there is an 
increase in the consumption of satisfactions not related to the ordi- 
nary pattern of family living and in other hedonistic gratifications. 
The adjustment of the civilian to army life is not effected without 
strain. This adjustment was a fertile source of humor to the Amer- 
ican soldier during the first World War. Much of the wit which he 
displayed was of a sort which expressed hostility toward army 
officers and military regulations. 

When war begins, the common man gains a certain importance 
which he has not previously had. Ordinarily we keep our Hves 
wrapped up in separate packages, and it is our greatest pleasure so to 
do. Along comes a war, and we are overwhelmed by it; we lose our 
privacies and refinements and the values which have seemed impor- 
tant to us. But there is also a gain. The nation now has an objective 
to which even the humblest and obscurest citizen contributes his 
proportionate share, and this gives meaning to the routine of his 
life. Perhaps for other reasons, but also in part for these, crime and 
suicide rates decline. There is, however, an increase in the civilian 
death rate. 


Period of High Morale 

Now ensues a more or less protracted period in which the nation 
struggles on grimly. The emotionalism o£ the early period fades 
out; flag-waving disappears; other patriotic songs are often substi- 
tuted for the national anthem. There is a growing respect for the 
enemy, and a realization of the seriousness of the conflict. There 
are long casualty lists. The crippled and wounded come home. The 
state of mind of civilians is about that portrayed by H. G. Wells in 
Mr. Britling Sees It Through. 

Hocking distinguished between the first and second stages of war 
in a splendid essay written toward the end of the first World War. 
We quote his discussion briefly: 

No one going from America to Europe in the last year could fail to 
notice the wide difference between the minds of nations long at war 
and that of a nation just entering. Over there, "crowd psychology" 
had spent itself. There was little flag-waving; the common purveyors 
of music were not everywhere playing (or allowed to play) the na- 
tional airs. If, in some Parisian cinema, the Marseillaise was given, 
nobody stood or sang. The reports of atrocities roused little visible 
anger or even talk — they were taken for granted. In short, the simpler 
emotions had been worn out, or rather, had resolved themselves into 
clear connections between knowledge and action. The people had 
found the mental gait that could be held indefinitely. Even a great 
advance finds them on their guard against too much joy. As the news 
from the second victory of the Marne begins to come in, we find this 
dispatch: "Paris refrains from exultation." 

And in the trenches the same is true in even greater degree. All the 
bravado and illusion of war are gone, also all the nervous revulsion; 
and in their places a grimly reliable resource of energy held in instant, 
almost mechanical readiness to do what is necessary.^ 

As war goes on, soldiers settle down to the business of war in their 
age-old manner. They have no illusions, but are determined to do 
their duty. Le Feu, by Barbusse, describes their state of mind. Soldiers 
now hve by their own characteristic morality, which the populace 
condones. Even those who have formerly been staid citizens develop 
military mentality marked by bravery and obedience and irrespon- 
sibility, by short-time plans and a hedonistic philosophy of life. 

° Ernest William Hocking, "Morale," The Atlantic Monthly, December, 
191 8, Vol. 122, pp. 721-8. 


Personal, social, and economic dislocations of war are now pain- 
fully apparent. People try to take them in their stride. War refugees 
appear in large numbers, straining the resources of communities. 
The morale of the refugees is naturally low. Possibly the fortunes 
of war confront the nation with the task of large-scale social recon- 
struction in a devastated area. The strain of war begins to tell upon 
the health of the people; death rates go up; birth rates fall to surpris- 
ingly low levels. Social institutions are disorganized; the educatioji 
of the young is carried on with difficulties; higher education is 
crippled. The value of many of the common goods of life, such as 
soap and cigarettes, is metamorphosed. Food tastes change under 
the impact of hunger; grease is no longer something to be avoided, 
and a bar of chocolate is the price of a woman's virtue. A strain of 
escapism may appear in literature and the arts. 

A new set of folkways and mores, adapted to war conditions, 
begins to become established and accepted. People never thereafter 
return to the pre-war moral system. 

War Weariness 

At length, this period of high morale gives way to war weariness. 
In the civilian population, bereavements and deprivations weigh 
heavily upon some, inflation and economic disturbances upon 
others. The personal-social dislocations of war increase greatly and 
become very irksome. There are many changes. There are severe 
health problems, possibly, even probably, epidemics. The engine of 
war seems to devour men and materials without ever producing any 
results. It is difficult to carry on any of the ordinary routines of life, 
difficult to get food and to keep warm in winter, difficult to clothe 
a family, difficult or impossible to educate children. For most people, 
all the little luxuries to which they were once attached have gone 
long since and life seems cruelly hard. There is a feeling that the 
country has been "bled white," and the desire for peace without 
victory begins to be expressed. Mysticism and spiritism now appear 
as a solution for many, especially for bereaved persons. 

The soldiers also begin to give way somewhat under the strain of 
war. They are still resolved to do their duty, but are painfully tired 


of war. Their state of mind is that described in All Quiet on the 
Western Front, Paths of Glory, The Case of Sergeant Grischa, 
A Farewell to Arms, Journey's End and similar bits of post-war lit- 
erature. St. George myths now begin to be credible, as well as 
stories of comrades who have risen from their graves to carry on 
the fight. The morale of the soldiers has begun to crack, but at the 
same time this may be the period when one final, desperate battle 
becomes possible. Soldiers begin to develop "the sympathy of per- 
cussion," that is, they begin to fraternize with the enemy ,^ Perhaps 
because they feel that the soldier on the opposite side is also at the 
mercy of the juggernaut, and that the things which all soldiers have 
in common are greater than those which divide them. (This tendency 
toward fraternization may, and in the last war did appear quite 
early. Nevertheless, it is usually regarded as a dangerous symptom of 
declining morale.) 

Opposition to war grows and becomes articulate. It is fought by 
propaganda, which sometimes emanates from interested parties. 
There may be political changes, reflecting the changed mood of 
the nation. Morale decHnes more rapidly on the home front than in 
the army. 

The pre-existing moral consensus has by now been profoundly 
disturbed. Sex mores have been permanently modified; men and 
women alike have adjusted to the changed conditions of war, and 
family ties are less binding than previously. Other mores have also 
been disturbed. There may be a great wave of ideaHsm and social 
reform, partly as a reaction to mass suffering. Struggles between the 
social classes, formerly suspended, are now reactivated; there is dis- 
tinctly a revolutionary situation. The class structure has also been 
greatly altered by the rise of war profiteers and the damage done to 
the middle class by inflation. Standards are confused and agencies 
of social control disorganized. 

It should be noted that war weariness is a result of the cumulative 
frustrations and deprivations of war. The greater the sacrifices de- 
manded of individuals by the war, the sooner may war weariness be 
expected to set in. 

^ For an example of "the sympathy of percussion," see the essay below by 
Frances Winwar, p. 207. 


Post-War Ke action 

Victory or defeat emerges from this situation. Then comes the 
confused post-war period, marked by the following characteristics: 

A peace which contains the seeds of further conflict. Social ar- 
rangements are set and attitudes engendered in individuals which 
make war immediately impossible and ultimately inevitable. 

There are widespread economic disturbances and disruptions in- 
volved in the process of returning industry to a peacetime basis. 
There may be further inflation in the post-war period, either of the 
boom type or of the runaway type. In any case, there must be ulti- 
mate deflation. These disturbances are, of course, world-wide; neu- 
tral nations as well as belligerents must share in them. 

There is a changed morality and a very confused morality. The 
mores have partially adapted to the changed situation but they 
remain unclear and confused on many points. Those who grew up 
in the pre-war period are subject to severe conflicts in matters of 
morality. A generation of post-war youth grows up which escapes 
the conflict by flaunting many features of conventional morality. The 
crime rate is usually high in the post-war period. 

The struggle between social classes is bitter and intense. Wartime 
gains in many fields, such as labor, are often largely lost in post-war 
reaction. Chaotic social conditions make revolution and reaction 
possible. Liberals are now thoroughly discredited, and the backbone 
of liberalism is broken. 

The soldier struggles to find his way back to civilian life and does 
not always succeed. The soldier cannot adjust to the moral au- 
tonomy, the routine, and the long-term plans of civilian life. The 
difficulties of this adjustment have been dramatized by the so-called 
"lost generation," a group of sensitive youngsters wounded and 
permanently depressed by the horrors of war but also disorganized 
and confused by the loss of moral landmarks, cut ofl from their 
local communities, their families, the hierarchy of the social classes 
and evermore unable to find their place again. There is a bitter 
reaction to the idealism of war, a burgeoning of futilitarianism, a 
growth of ivory-tower estheticism, and even a cult of unintelligi- 
bility, all of which may be interpreted as a product of idealism and 


subsequent disillusionment. The common soldier does not become a 
member of a voluble and endlessly self-pitying lost generation, but 
he is nonetheless disorganized. It has been said that every war leaves 
three armies: an army of heroes, an army of beggars, and an army 
of thieves. In spite of all this, it is hkely that most soldiers adjust to 
civilian life quite easily. Veterans' organizations, though likely to 
become politically vicious, probably help the soldier to readjust. 

An unfortunate remnant of wartime solidarity is the curtailment 
of civil liberties. Individuals voluntarily give up many of their rights 
in time of war; at least they make no objection when the rights of 
free speech and free assemblage and the freedom of the press are 
abolished and such safeguards as the writ of habeas corpus sus- 
pended. In the confused period following a war, it seems impossible 
to restore these rights at once. They are regained, if at all, only after 
bitter struggles. It is a matter of years before courts and legislators 
return to their usual procedures. This is one of the least regarded, 
and in the long run one of the worst, of the consequences of war. 

The chaos of a post-war period is almost indescribable. In 1920 
James Westfall Thompson felt that the age might justly be com- 
pared with the period following the Black Death. He wrote as fol- 
lows: "It is surprising to see how similar are the complaints then 
and now: economic chaos, social unrest, high prices, profiteering, 
depravation of morals, lack of production, industrial indolence, 
frenetic gaiety, wild expenditure, luxury, debauchery, social and 
religious hysteria, greed, avarice, maladministration, decay of man- 
ners."^ It would not be easy to find a better summary description of 
the social and cultural aftermath of war. 

War Settles Nothing 

The most unfortunate thing about war is that it accomplishes 
nothing. All the eflort that goes into it is wasted ; all its sacrifices are 
vain. The issues between nations, over which they go to war, still 
remain when war is done; war does not settle anything. The diplo- 
mats at their conventional green tables come to the end of their 

^ James Westfall Thompson, "The Aftermath of the Black Death and the 
Aftermath of the Great War," The American Journal of Sociology, March, 
1920, Vol. 26, pp. 565-72. 


arguments and their nations go to war. In the end the diplomats 
must take up again where they left off before, not exactly at the 
same place, of course, but with the arguments on both sides not very 
much changed. 

War settles nothing because defeated nations will not accept de- 
feat. War is an arbiter whose decisions the contestants refuse to 
accept as final, for there is always the chance that another trial will 
turn out differently. If nations go to war over a matter of territory, 
one side takes the territory and the other side is dissatisfied with the 
situation. Twenty years later all is to do again, and the war has 
settled nothing. If it is a matter of right or morality or justice that 
sets nations at one another's throats, war cannot settle that because 
force is utterly irrelevant to any claim of truth or right. Arguments 
concerning a matter of right can be affected by force; one of the 
contestants can be compelled to withdraw his claim altogether, but 
the conquered people remains unconvinced; after a lapse of years 
the vanquished nation will urge the same old arguments and back 
them with better guns, and it will be seen that the war did not settle 
the matter. 

If war is waged over the status of a minority, it is almost certain 
to be bootless, especially in Europe. Europe is populated by a large 
number of peoples — language groups, culture groups, races, nation- 
alities — scattered discontinuously over wide areas. It is impossible to 
work out the boundaries of nations in such a way that they will in- 
clude no minorities. Wherever the frontiers of a nation are located, 
they are certain to include minorities which may consider themselves 
oppressed. From this side of the Atlantic, it certainly seems that 
many of the struggles of Central Europe revolve around the ques- 
tion who shall oppress whom. Any solution effected by force is cer- 
tain to be unstable. The Czechs have lost their liberty, but they say, 
"We will live again." Many generations of Babylonian captivity 
failed to crush the nationalistic spirit of the Poles. The only real 
solution of the problem of minorities would be for all these peoples 
to abandon their claims to absolute sovereignty and to work out 
their common destiny together. Such a solution is the moral opposite 
of a solution by force. 

If war arises over the possession of supplies of raw materials it is 


worse than useless. German industry requires, let us say, some mil- 
lions of tons of iron ore which Germans must annually purchase in 
the open market outside of Germany. If Germany goes to war and 
obtains control of the iron ore, the situation of the German manu- 
facturers and the German people is not materially changed. German 
manufacturers must still purchase the ore at the price set by eco- 
nomic processes; costs are little if any less now than before. Or let 
us suppose that the French seize this ore from Germany. It is Hkely 
to come about, as a result of the adjustments of international trade, 
that German manufacturers purchase the same iron ore as before 
and with relatively little change in the price. It would be wrong to 
say that war is completely without eflFect in such cases, but the effect 
is less than the uninitiated suppose, and it is produced at an exorbi- 
tant cost. The impoverishment of a nation by war far outweighs 
any possible economic gain. There are always two losers in a war. 

War does not even mean the end of the fighting. It does not cause 
peoples to expend their hate, so that nothing is left; it breeds hate 
more rapidly than it exhausts it. The war goes on after the war in 
other forms. A great war is followed by dozens of little wars. The 
nations of the world have fought with tariils and other economic 
measures ever since the Armistice in 1918. War does not end the 
fighting; it is not the cure for hate. Only the orderly processes of 
peace can end the fighting. Only compromise and conciliation and 
the passage of time can cure hate. 

The truth is that nationalism is an anachronism. That sort of 
nationalism which will not renounce war as an instrument of policy 
has no place in the modern world. The organization of world trade 
binds the peoples of the world together, so that each is dependent 
upon all the others, and no one people can live in its accustomed 
way without the others. The culture of the peoples binds them to- 
gether; science is international; art and literature are addressed to 
all men regardless of nationality or creed. The humanitarian spirit 
is international. Technology has annihilated distance; it has been 
said that the airplane has made Europe an absurdity. All these things 
bring the peoples of the earth closer together. Only nationalism 
keeps them apart. War might settle our problems if we waged wars 
to the point of extermination, but we cannot and will not do that. 


Our civilization has progressed so far that it will not permit a really 
decisive war, but it has not progressed far enough to do away with 
war altogether. 

For centuries Western civilization has been periodically devastated 
by its wars which recur with seeming fatality. While there has been 
no slackening to date of wars and rumors of wars, there is some 
reason to hope that we may sometime come to the end of them. 
Whatever be the case with their governments, no one can deny that 
the people of Europe have come to look upon war with inextinguish- 
able horror. Their folkways have grown peaceful; there is no people 
in Europe that has any appetite for slaughter; in no country does 
any great proportion of the people really want war. The so-called 
Munich peace was possible only because the masses of the people in 
Britain and France recoiled with horror from the thought of war. 
The change in the folkways is certainly not limited to the democratic 
nations; it shows itself in the dictatorships as well. The flaming pro- 
test against war in the 'twenties, the world-wide popularity of such 
books as All Quiet on the Western Front and The Case of Sergeant 
Grischa, the case of the great clergyman who apologized to the 
unknown soldier for supporting a war, and the English youths who 
took the Oxford oath — these things seem to have been forgotten 
now. Have they really been forgotten? Have they disappeared with- 
out a trace? It may be that the world has changed more than it 
seems. It may be that stubborn, resistless changes in the folkways 
will shortly outlaw war as an instrument of national policy. 

Suggested Readings 

Abrams, Ray, Preachers Present Arms, Round Table Press, 1933. 
Barbusse, Henri, Under Fire, The Story of a Squad, Button, 1917. 
Barnes, H. E., The Genesis of the World War, 2d ed., Knopf, 1927. 
Beard, Charles A., and Mary, The Rise of American Civilization, Mac- 

millan, 1927. 
Beard, Charles A., Giddy Minds and Foreign Quarrels, Macmillan, 1939. 
Brittain, Vera, Testament of Youth, Macmillan, 1933. 
Chambers, Frank P., The War Behind the War, Harcourt, Brace, 1939. 
Fay, Sidney B., The Origins of the World War, Macmillan, 1928. 
Hocking, E. W., "Morale," The Atlantic Monthly, December, 1918, Vol. 

122, pp. 721-728. 



James, William, The Moral Equivalent of War, New York, The Ameri- 
can Association for International Conciliation, 19 lo. 

Lippmann, Walter, The Stak^es of Diplomacy, 2d ed.. Holt, 1917. 

Millis, Walter, The Martial Spirit, A Study of Our War with Spain, 
Houghton Mifflin, 1931. 

Road to War, igi^-igiy, Houghton Mifflin, 1935. 

Remarque, Erich Maria, All Quiet on the Western Front, Little, Brown, 

The Road Bac\, Little, Brown, 193 1. 

Three Comrades, Little, Brown, 1937. 

Seligman, E. R. A., The Economic Interpretation of History, Columbia 

University Press, 1902. 
Stratton, G. M., Social Psychology of International Conduct, Appleton, 


International Delusions, Houghton Mifflin, 1936. 

Thompson, James Westfall, "The Aftermath of the Black Death and the 

Aftermath of the Great War," The American Journal of Sociology, 

March, 1920, Vol. 26, pp. 565-72. 
Wells, H. G., Experiment in Autobiography, Macmillan, 1934. 
Mr. Britling Sees It Through, Macmillan, 1916. 







Harry Elmer Barnes 

In this opening section of the book we shall review the fictions of 
wartime propaganda, indicate how these have been wiped away, 
and recount the solemn facts about the origins, character, and 
results of the first World War. Only through a mastery of these 
can we adequately comprehend the realities of the world conflict 
which began in Poland in September, 1939. 

The Entente epic of 1914-18 ran essentially as follows: For years 
prior to 1914, France, Russia, England, and their associates had 
been working steadily for the peace of Europe and a concert of 
nations. But they had been blocked at every turn by German bluff, 
aggression, and ill will. Germany was impatiently awaiting the ar- 
rival of "Der Tag," when she would overrun all Europe as she had 
France in 1870-71. She had built up a colossal and unmatched mili- 
tary machine, having become nothing less than a great military 
octopus threatening the peace of the world. 

"Der Tag" came when the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir 
to the Austro-Hungarian throne, was assassinated at Sarajevo in 
Bosnia on June 28, 1914. It was even asserted by some Entente 


40 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

writers that this assassination was plotted by militarists in Germany 
and Austria who could tolerate no further delay. 

Immediately, the Allied states tried to hold the situation in check 
by diplomatic measures, but Germany spurned them all. When 
her ally, Austria, seemed Hkely to listen to reason, Germany threw 
everything to the winds and plunged Europe into blood and ruin 
through a premature and utterly unprovoked declaration of war on 
Russia. Turning westward, she declared war on France and invaded 
the defenseless little neutral state of Belgium, thus transforming 
the solemn obligations of nations into scraps of paper. 

The AUied states, thus suddenly surprised in an ambush attack 
by the German "gorilla," reluctantly but gallantly took up the 
sword in self-defense. England came in solely to champion the 
cause of "poor little Belgium" after she had vainly exhausted every 
resource of diplomacy and persuasion. The war, thus begun with 
clean hands on the part of the Entente, was carried on as a noble 
and idealistic enterprise. There was no thought of territorial or 
financial aggrandizement. The Allies fought for the sanctity of 
international law, for the rights of small nations, for the end of 
military dictatorship, for the freedom of the seas, for democracy, 
and for world organization to prevent another season of carnage. 
There were no secret agreements among them. All was above board 
and exposed to the clear noonday light of truth and sincerity. Never 
before had so many states united to shed their blood in the cause 
of pure and limpid idealism. 

On the other hand, Germany continued her brutality after the 
fashion of her brazen acts in the summer of 1914. She reduced war 
to the lowest level of savagery, not only crucifying captured soldiers, 
but even brutally and wantonly assaulting, mutilating, and mur- 
dering non-combatants, many of them women and children. Ger- 
man submarines transferred the barbarism from land to the waters, 
turning their guns on the poor devils who were struggling to keep 

This pretty myth might have been believed for generations had 
not revolutionary overturns in Germany, Austria, and Russia per- 
mitted the publication of the secret documents in foreign offices, 
which told the real truth about 1914. They also exposed the facts 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 41 

about the Allied agreements after the war broke out — i.e., the notori- 
ous Secret Treaties. 

The Kealities of 1^14 

We now have the actual facts about 1914. They demolish the 
Entente picture, though nobody of sense regards Germany as a 
helpless lamb in the midst of a pack of howling wolves. 

In the decade before the war, Germany had made vigorous ef- 
forts to arrive at an understanding with Russia, France, and Eng- 
land, but had failed. This was partially because of France's de- 
termination to recover Alsace-Lorraine, Britain's jealousy of Ger- 
man naval, mercantile, and colonial power, and Russia's desire for 
the Straits leading out of the Black Sea. It was in part because of 
the maladroit diplomacy of Chancellor Bernhard von Biilow and his 
evil genius. Baron von Holstein. They bungled German relations 
with France and Britain. Between 1912 and 1914, Izvolsky, Russian 
Ambassador in Paris, and President Raymond Poincare of France 
carried through a diplomatic revolution which placed France and 
Russia in readiness for any favorable diplomatic crisis that would 
bring England in on their side and make possible the French re- 
capture of Alsace-Lorraine and the Russian seizure of the Straits. 

This opportunity came after the assassination of the Austro- 
Hungarian Archduke in 1914. Germany accepted all the important 
diplomatic proposals of 1914 save one. For this she substituted one 
which even England admitted was far superior. She tried to hold 
Austria in check after July 27, but France and Russia refused to be 
conciliatory. In the very midst of promising diplomatic negotia- 
tions, Russia arbitrarily ordered a general mobilization on the 
German frontier. France had given her prior approval. Such a 
mobilization had long been recognized in the European capitals 
as tantamount to a declaration of war on Germany. 

After vainly exhorting the Russians to cancel their mobiHzation, 
Germany finally set her forces in action against the numerous Rus- 
sian hordes. France informed Russia that she had decided on war 
a day before Germany declared war on Russia and three days be- 
fore Germany declared war on France. England came in to check 
the growdi of German naval, colonial, and mercantile power. The 

42 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

Belgian gesture was a transparent subterfuge, used by Sir Edward 
Grey to inflame the British populace. He himself admitted that 
he would have resigned if England had not entered the war, 
even though Germany had respected Belgian neutrality. The docu- 
ments show us that Grey refused even to discuss the German 
proposal to respect Belgian neutrality as a condition of British 
neutrality. Belgium had not even figured in the British cabinet 
discussions when war was decided upon. Lord Morley's Memo- 
randum on Resignation proves this. 

In the light of the well-established facts about 1914, it is now clear 
that, under existing circumstances, Serbia, Russia, and France 
wished a European war in the summer of 1914; that Austria- 
Hungary wished a local punitive war but not a European war; and 
that Germany, Great Britain, and Italy would have preferred no 
war at all, but were too dilatory, stupid, or involved to act with 
sufficient speed and decisiveness to avert the calamity. 

In 191 8 the Bolsheviks of Russia published the hitherto suppressed 
Secret Treaties of the Allies. These proved that the idealistic En- 
tente pretensions about the aims of their war were no more valid 
than their mythological assertions about the events of the summer 
of 1914. Russia was to get the Straits, Constantinople, and adjacent 
districts. France was to get Alsace-Lorraine and the left bank of 
the Rhine. Italy was to make the Adriatic an Italian lake. Great 
Britain was to be rewarded by the destruction of the German navy, 
merchant marine, and colonial empire. Altogether, the Allies were 
to destroy the "economic power of Germany." These treaties, of 
course, sent the AUied "Holy War" myth gurgling to the bottom 
of the sea, spurlos versen\t. Wilson tried to block their execution 
at the Versailles Conference, but with indifferent success. 

The courageous works of Ponsonby, Avenarius, Lasswell, Grat- 
tan, Viereck, Peterson, Chambers, Mock and Larson, and others 
have likewise upset the wartime myths about German atrocities. 
It has been amply proved that even the Bryce Report was consciously 
falsified and was thoroughly unreliable. Even Admiral Sims ad- 
mitted that there was but one German submarine atrocity, and for 
this the German commander was punished. 

This remarkable modification of historical opinion relative to 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 43 

responsibility for the World War of 1914 does not, of course, give 
Germany any ground for assuming a holier-than-thou attitude. She 
did not wish war in 1914 because her aspirations and policies were 
being reaHzed remarkably well through peaceful channels and activi- 
ties. Her pacific attitude did not grow out of her superior moral 
principles or a more sincere devotion to the cause of peace. Had 
some of her basic goals and public policies been realizable only 
through war, as was the case with France and Russia, there is every 
probability that Germany would have been just as bellicose in igi^ 
as were these other powers. 

How We Know About the Causes of the World War 
of 1914 

As a result of the revolutions in Russia, Austria, and Germany, 
new governments appeared on the scene which had no reason for 
desiring to conceal facts which might possibly turn out to be dis- 
creditable to the preceding royal regimes. Indeed, they hoped that 
the documents in the foreign offices would actually show that the 
old imperial governments had been responsible for bringing on the 
war. They believed that such proof would help to maintain the 
new revolutionary governments in power. They presumed that an in- 
creased popular hatred of the former regimes would grow out of 
the knowledge that the monarchical governments had been re- 
sponsible for the suflerings which the World War had entailed. 

Therefore, the new Austrian and German governments volun- 
tarily published a full and complete edition of the documents in 
their respective foreign offices bearing on the crisis of 1914 — the so- 
called Red Boo\ and the Kauts\y Documents. The Germans sub- 
sequently published all the important documents on the whole 
period from 1870 to 19 14, the voluminous Grosse Politi\. These 
allowed the facts to speak for themselves as to German foreign 
policy in the half-century before the war, and challenged the other 
states to do likewise. 

The Austrians were long delayed in the publication of material 
on the period before 1914 because of the opposition of the Entente 
to the appearance of such potentially damaging documents. Finally, 

44 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

in 1930, Austrian scholars published an eight-volume collection of 
source material on Austro-Serbian relations from 1908 to 1914. 
This has made necessary a much more lenient judgment of Aus- 
tria than was possible when Professor Sidney B. Fay's important 
work, The Origins of the World War, appeared in 1928. 

The Russian Bolshevik Government did not systematically pub- 
lish its diplomatic documents on the period before 1914, but allowed 
French and German scholars, such as Rene Marchand and Fried- 
rich Stieve, to have access to the archives and to make adequate 
selections. The Stieve collection, known as Der diplomatische 
Schriftwechsel Iswols\is, is the most complete material, and its 
honesty and adequacy cannot be challenged. It deals particularly 
with the work of Izvolsky in carrying through the great diplomatic 
revolution of 1912-14, in collaboration with President Poincare of 

The British Government was the first non-revolutionary govern- 
ment voluntarily to pubHsh its documents bearing on the outbreak 
of the World War. This it began in the autumn of 1926, and ten 
other volumes were later pubHshed on the period from 1898 to 

Finally, and last in order, the French began in 1928 to publish 
a collection of diplomatic documents on the pre-war period. The 
fact that the supervisory authorities have been mainly public 
functionaries rather than impartial scholars makes it highly im- 
probable that the French documents possess the completeness or 
the candor to be observed in the earlier publications. But so much 
documentary material has now been published by other states which 
enables us to check up on the French documents, that we may be 
certain that the colossal frauds and forgeries which characterized 
the original French Yellow Boo^ are not embodied in this more 
extended collection of French documents. 

This documentary material has been supplemented by special 
monographs, by biographies and memoirs of leading figures in 
the diplomatic history of Europe from 1870 to 1914, and by able 
general works which have sought to assemble, summarize, and 
appraise the significance of the documentary evidence, the mono- 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 45 

graphs, the biographies, and the memoirs.-^ The overwhelming ma- 
jority of such books, of which Professor Fay's The Origins of the 
World War is an outstanding representative, reverse our wartime 
judgments in the manner which we have above described. Differ- 
ences of opinion among students today relate to details rather than 
to the general picture.^ 

Levels or Types of Responsibility for the World War 

In generalizing about responsibility for the World War of 1914 
it is necessary to be specific as to the meaning of "responsibihty." 

Some scholars contend that all the Great Powers involved were 
about equally responsible. Others state that, in 1914, France, Rus- 
sia, and Serbia were primarily responsible for a European war 
under conditions as they then existed. Both of these opinions can 
be sustained if one clarifies what is meant by each interpretation.^ 

Those who argue for equal responsibility in this sense usually 
mean that, if we consider primarily the more general causes of 
war in European society from 1870 to 1914, all the Great Powers 
were about equally responsible for the war system. They do not 
have in mind the crisis of 1914, but rather the cultural and institu- 
tional situation behind the July clash. Those who contend for the 
primary guilt of France, Russia, and Serbia concentrate on the 
responsibihty for exploiting the Austro-Serbian dispute of 1914 for 
the purpose of launching a general European conflict. It is neces- 
sary, therefore, to know just what one implies when he says that 

•^ Most of these post-war publications are described and appraised by G. P. 
Gooch in his Recent Ret/elatiotis of European Diplomacy, Longmans, 1928. 

^ The latest and, one may fairly say, the final desperate effort to revive and 
vindicate the wartime conceptions of war guilt is contained in Prof. Bernadotte 
E. Schmitt's The Coming of the War, igi4, Scribner, 1930. This has been 
devastatingly answered by M. H. Cochran in his Germany Not Guilty in igi4, 
Stratford, 1931, probably the most severe criticism to which an American 
historical work has ever been subjected. Even those who defend Schmitt 
personally refute his work and conclusions by implication. For example. 
Prof. F. L. Schuman sweepingly defended Schmitt's scholarship and impar- 
tiality in reviewing Schmitt's book in The Nation. At the same time, Schu- 
man's own work, War and Diplomacy in the French Republic, presents a revi- 
sionist interpretation wholly at variance with Schmitt. The history of war-guilt 
scholarship is recounted in my World Politics in Modern Civilization, Knopf, 
1930, Chaps. XXI-XXIII. 

^ The views of a third group who believe the Central Powers solely respon- 
sible no longer require serious consideration. 

46 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

everybody was guilty or that this or that group of nations was 

The most thoughtful authorities on the question of responsibility 
contend that we must examine the problem on at least four levels: 
(i) Those general causes of war which made war possible if not 
inevitable in 1914 — i.e., the war system; (2) the diplomatic history 
of Europe from 1870 to 1912; (3) the diplomatic revolution of 
1912-14; and (4) the crisis of June 28 to August 5, 1914. 

The War System 

By the general causes of wars we mean those divers aspects of 
the European social order in the half-century before 1914 which pre- 
disposed governments to war whenever a crisis of sufficient propor- 
tions arose. As representative factors making for war, one would 
naturally list such things as the cult of war, racial and national 
arrogance, the growth of great armaments, secret diplomacy, the 
competition for raw materials and markets, the system of differ- 
ential and discriminatory tariffs, population pressure, the doctrine 
of absolute national sovereignty, the conception of national honor, 
opposition to international organization and arbitration — in short, 
the whole complex of factors that led to what G. Lowes Dickinson 
has so well described as "the international anarchy" that prevailed 
throughout Europe in 1914. 

When we consider such fundamental causes of war as those listed 
above, it must be frankly admitted that all the nations involved in 
the war in 1914 were about equally guilty. They were all a part of 
the system; if one had a larger army than his neighbor, the neighbor 
was likely to have a greater navy. If one was more patriotic, an- 
other was more strongly impelled by inexorable economic forces. 
If one pursued a more clever program of international duplicity 
through secret diplomacy, another disturbed the peace more by 
startling frankness in international behavior. Therefore, it can be 
held that, so far as general causes of war are concerned, no one 
European state or group of powers was uniquely at fault. 

* The most judicious brief analysis and summary of the whole matter known 
to the writer is contained in C. L. Becker, Modern History, Silver, Burdett, 
1931, Chap. XX. See also Sir C. R. Beazley, The Road to Ruin in Europe, i8go- 
^914, London, 1932. 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 47 

During the war the Entente asserted and reiterated that Ger- 
many was, beyond comparison, the chief representative of the war 
system in Europe; that, for example, it had a larger army than any 
other state, was more given to enthusiastic reading of the prophets 
of war, such as Nietzsche and Bernhardi, whose names were on 
the tongues of every German school child, and was dominated in 
its foreign policy by the bellicose and arrogant Pan-German League, 
which advocated German domination throughout the world. Let 
us examine the facts involved in this Entente indictment of 

A leading French authority on military organization. General 
E. A. L. Buat, has shown that on July i, 1914, before a soldier had 
been called to the colors because of the crisis of that year, the active 
French army numbered 910,000 with 1,250,000 reservists, while the 
active German army at this time numbered 870,000 with 1,180,000 
reservists.^ The Russian army lacked little of being twice as large 
as the German. The British navy was about twice as large as the 
German, while the combined British, Russian, and French navies 
made the Austro-German naval combination appear almost in- 
significant. Of course, numbers do not mean efficiency, but they are 
surely the test of the existence and degree of armament, and the 
Entente contention was that Germany far surpassed any other 
nation in the world in 1914 in the extent of its armaments. The 
fact that the Germans proved the most efficient soldiers once war 
broke out does not alter the case in any degree. The French army 
was, in general, as well prepared for war as the German, and the 
Russian army was well prepared for the short war that it had ex- 

Likewise, the assertion that Nietzsche and Bernhardi were wor- 
shipped by the German people receives no support from the facts. 
In the first place, the patriotic and militaristic writing in Germany 
could easily be matched by cogent examples of jingoism in the 
other European states; for example, in the writings of Barres and 

° E. A. L. Buat, L'armee allemande pendant la guerre de igi^-i8, Paris, 
1920, pp. 7-9. 

® Editor's note. However, Wolf says that "In 1914 Germany was more sys- 
tematically prepared for war than any other country." See below, pp. 365-66. — 
W. W. 

48 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

Deroulede in France; of Kipling, Lea, Cramb, and Maxse in Eng- 
land; of D'Annunzio in Italy; and of the Panslavists in Russia. 
In the second place, Nietzsche was in no sense an exponent of the 
Prussian military system. He hated the Prussian military oligarchy, 
and, as Professor Charles Andler, the foremost French authority 
on Nietzsche, has shown, he was by no means an indiscriminate 
eulogist of the war cult. As Andler says, "It is a mistake to con- 
tinue to picture Nietzsche as the apologist of Saint Devastation." 
Yet, even if we conceded the worst things said about Nietzsche by 
the Entente propagandists during the World War, it cannot be 
shown that he had any appreciable influence upon either the German 
masses or the German officialdom before 1914. He was vigorously 
anti-Christian in his philosophy, and, hence was anathema to the 
majority of the Germans, especially the Prussian bureaucrats and 
militarists, who were loyal and pious Protestants. No one could have 
been more repugnant to them than was the prophet of the Anti- 
christ. Nor was Bernhardi any more widely followed. He was not 
read by the masses, and the present writer once ascertained that 
not a single official in the German Foreign Office in 1914 had 
ever read his book on Germany and the Next War — portrayed by 
Entente writers as their veritable Bible. 

During the war Americans were frequently warned by Andre 
Cheradame and other propagandists as to the dangerous nature of 
the Pan-German plot to annex the world.^ We were told that the 
German people and government were willingly in the grip of the 
Pan-German League and were eager abettors of its aggressive plans. 

The nature, activities, and influences of the Pan-German League 
were made the subject of a learned study by Dr. Mildred Wert- 
heimer,^ who showed that it was made up of a small group of 
noisy jingoes, who had Httle influence on the German government. 
The latter regarded the organization as a nuisance and an em- 
barrassing handicap to German diplomacy. It could be matched 
by similar groups in any leading country in Europe, and had about 
as much influence on the Kaiser and Chancellor von Bethmann- 

^ Cf. Andre Cheradame, The Pangerman Plot Unmas\ed, Scribner, 1917. 
® M. S. Wertheimer, The Pan-German League, i8go-igi4, Columbia Uni- 
versity Press, 1924. 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 49 

Hollweg as the National Security League or the "Preparedness" 
societies had on President Wilson and Secretary of State Bryan in 

It may be true that the German people accepted the miUtary 
yoke somewhat more willingly than certain other European popu- 
lations, but in 1914 the civil government in Germany retained con- 
trol of affairs to the last and resolutely held out against war until 
all hope for peace was destroyed by the Russian general mobili- 

We may therefore conclude with complete assurance that with 
respect to the general causes of war, the guilt from 1870 to 1914 
was divided; in fact, about equally distributed. In holding Ger- 
many, along with England and Italy, relatively less responsible 
for war in 1914,^*^ we do not in any sense attempt to find these states 
innocent of an equal share in producing the system of international 
anarchy which made war probable whenever Europe faced a major 
diplomatic crisis. At the same time, it can no longer be asserted 
with any show of proof that Germany was uniquely black in its 
general pre-war record. 

High Lights of European Diplomacy from iS'jo to igiz 
Some may express surprise that diplomatic history since 1870 is 
here divided into two sections: (i) 1870 to 1912; and (2) 1912 to 
1914. Why should we not treat it as a single unit from 1870 to 
1914? The answer is that down to 1912 the European system of 
alHances and European diplomacy were, at least ostensibly, devoted 
to the preservation of the balance of power and the maintenance 
of peace. Between 1912 and 1914, however, Russia and France, 
through their agents Izvolsky and Poincare, abandoned this order 
of things and laid plans to exploit an appropriate European crisis 
in such a manner as either to humiliate the Central Powers or to 
enter upon a war that would bring to Russia the Straits (Dar- 
danelles and Bosporus) and a warm-water port on the Black Sea, 

® See below, p. 68. Von Moltke spoke only for himself, and the Austrians so 
understood it. The definitive treatment of the civil government versus the 
General Staff in Germany in 1914 is contained in M. H. Cochran, Germany 
Not Guilty in 1914, Stratford, 1931, Chap. VII. 

■"^"See below, pp. 70-1. 

50 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

and to France the lost provinces o£ Alsace and Lorraine. They also 
endeavored, with much success, to get England so deeply involved 
in their Franco-Russian Alliance that it would be almost bound to 
come in on their side in the event of a European war. Therefore, 
we have to draw a dividing line in European diplomacy at 1912, 
while fully realizing that the break was not sharp and that the 
policy which Izvolsky brought to fruition in 1914 was begun by 
him as early as 1908. 

In the diplomatic history from 1870 to 1912 the developments 
and episodes of greatest moment were: (i) The genesis of the two 
great alliances — the Triple AlUance and the Triple Entente; (2) 
the French desire to recover Alsace-Lorraine; (3) Russia's desire to 
obtain the Straits leading out of the Black Sea; (4) the diplomatic 
clashes between France, Germany, and Britain over Morocco; (5) 
the superficial and somewhat hypocritical effort of the nations to 
secure disarmament and arbitration at the Hague Conferences of 
1890 and 1907; and (6) the development of Anglo-German naval 
rivalry, especially after 1908. 

The Triple Alliance was arranged by Bismarck between 1878 
and 1882, and brought Germany, Austria, and Italy together in 
a defensive pact designed primarily to frustrate a French war of 
revenge. Bismarck also secured benevolent relations with Russia 
through a Reinsurance Treaty made in 1884 and renewed in 1887. 

After Bismarck's retirement in 1890 the Kaiser abandoned the 
Russian link and turned to England as the most promising country 
outside the Triple AUiance to cultivate. The French were on the 
alert and quickly picked up Russia. They had successfully negotiated 
a defensive military alliance with the Tsardom by 1893.^^ When 
England and Germany failed to draw together between 1898 and 
1903, because of the inadequacy and insincerity of the British offers 
and the opposition of the misanthropic Baron von Holstein, the 
French made a bid for British friendship. By 1904 they had suc- 
ceeded in forming an Anglo-French agreement. Indeed, they even 
created a Triple Entente in 1907 through promoting an under- 

^^ See Georges Michon, The Franco-Russian Alliance, i8gi-igiy, Macmillan, 
1929, Chaps. I-IV; and W. L. Langer, The Franco-Russian Alliance, i8go- 
1914, Harvard University Press, 1929. 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 51 

standing between England and Russia over the Near East; and 
they successfully tested British support in the second Morocco crisis 
of 191 1, when England actually took a more beUicose stand than 
either France or Germany.^^ 

The two great counter-alliances were certainly organized at the 
outset primarily to preserve the peace of Europe. Bismarck formed 
the Triple Alliance to prevent France from fomenting a war of 
revenge/^ and Grey accepted the Triple Entente to preserve the 
balance of power, whatever may have been in the back of the heads 
of Paul Cambon and his associates, who led the English safely into 
the Entente. 

Yet in due time the counter-alliances became a menace to Europe, 
because both groups of powers hesitated to back down in a serious 
crisis for fear of losing prestige. Further, as we shall show later, 
Izvolsky and Poincare were successful in 1912 in transforming the 
purpose of the Triple Entente from a defensive and pacific organi- 
zation into one that was preparing for a European war and was 
arming itself so as to be ready when the crisis arose. This does not 
imply any deHberate plot on the part of Izvolsky and Poincare to 
bring on a war for war's sake. It merely means that, by the end of 
1912, Izvolsky was convinced that Russia could gain its objectives 
only by war and that Poincare was determined that France should 
achieve its ambitions in the same conflict. 

As between the two armed camps, it must be held that after 191 1 
the Triple Entente was much the greater menace to Europe :^^ (i) 
because the Triple Alliance was gradually going to pieces on ac- 
count of the secret Italian withdrawal in 1902 and the Austro- 
German friction over Serbia in 1912-1913; and (2) because from 
1912 to 1914 the Triple Entente was being transformed into a firm 
and potentially bellicose association. 

At the close of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 the Germans had 
annexed the two former German provinces of Alsace and Lor- 
raine, which had been taken from Germany and added to France 

^^ Fully confirmed to the writer by M. Caillaux. 

^^ See W. L. Langer, European Alliances and Alignments, i8yi-i8go, Knopf, 

^* See S. B. Fay, The Origins of the World War, Macmillan, 1928, 2 vols., 
Vol. I, pp. 312-46. 

52 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

by Louis XIV and other French monarchs. It proved an unwise 
move for Germany, for the French never ceased to hope for their 

France could not fairly hold Prussia responsible for the War of 
1870, for even the Revanchard^^ Clemenceau admitted that "in 
1870 Napoleon III, in a moment of folly, declared war on Ger- 
many without having even the excuse of being in a state of military 
preparedness. No true Frenchman has ever hesitated to admit that 
the wrongs of that day were committed by our side."^^ But the Ger- 
man annexations at the close of the war in 1871, whether justified 
or not, aroused a French aspiration for a war of revenge and laid 
a basis for the diplomatic maneuvers that ultimately led Europe to 
war in 1914. As Dr. J. S. Ewart well stated it: 

The Alsace-Lorraine annexation by Prussia, in 1871, was the 
principal factor in the counter-alliances, ententes, and antagonisms 
which perturbed continental Europe for forty-three years. . . . Not 
France only, but all Europe, kept in mind, between 1871 and 1914, 
with varying intensity, the prospect — one might say the assumed 
certainty — of the recurrence of the Franco-Prussian War.-^^ 

Since the reign of Peter the Great, Russia had desired a good 
warm-water port to assure free and unimpeded passage for its 
commercial products and its war vessels. It had attempted to secure 
access through the Dardanelles and Bosporus in the Crimean War 
and in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, but was blocked by 
Great Britain and other European powers. Russia next turned to 
the Far East and sought a warm-water port on the Pacific after 
the building of the Trans-Siberian Railroad. It secured this in Port 
Arthur, but was soon driven out of this commercial and naval base 
as a result of its defeat in the Russo-Japanese War. An attempt to 
get a port on the Persian Gulf also failed. Russia then returned to 
the Near East, to the Black Sea Straits, which were now all the 
more desirable, as Russia had in 1907 come to terms with its old 

^^ I.e., an apostle of a war to avenge the defeat of 1870-71. 

^^ Georges Clemenceau, "The Cause of France," Saturday Evening Post, 
October 24, 1914. 

•■^^ J. S. Ewart, The Roots and Causes of the War (igi4-igi8), Doran, 1925, 
2 vols., Vol. I, p. 671; Vol. II, p. 1169. 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 53 

rival, Great Britain, which controlled the outlet from the Medi- 
terranean to the Atlantic (Straits of Gibraltar). 

In order to get the Straits, the Russian Foreign Minister, Alex- 
ander Petrovich Izvolsky, first tried diplomacy. He proposed, in 
1908, that the Austrians should annex two South Slav provinces, 
Bosnia and Herzegovina, in return for which Austria was to sup- 
port the Russian demand for the Straits. Austria agreed and 
promptly annexed the two provinces, but England blocked the 
Russian plan in regard to taking over the Straits. Izvolsky, usually 
bankrupt personally, did not dare openly to criticize England, as 
he was then being supported in part by gifts from Sir Arthur Nicol- 
son, the British ambassador in St. Petersburg.^® So he dishonestly 
alleged Austrian aggression and denied previous knowledge or ap- 
proval of the annexation plan. 

This blocking by Grey of Izvolsky 's plan to trade the annexation 
of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria for Russian control of the 
Straits must not only be regarded as a flagrant example of short- 
sighted British self-interest, but also as probably the most im- 
portant single indirect cause of the World War. 

Izvolsky next turned to Turkey, and in the fall of 191 1 Russia 
offered Turkey a defensive alliance if it would open the Straits 
to Russian war vessels. Turkey was still under the scrutiny of the 
Germans in 191 1 and did not care to accept this risky offer of Rus- 
sian protection against the Balkan states. A most significant aspect 
of the diplomacy of Izvolsky in 1908 and 191 1 was that, on both 
occasions, he was prepared to sacrifice the interests of the Slavic 
states in the Balkans when Russia stood to gain by such action. 
In 1914, however, Russia justified her measures that brought on 
the war by the contention that it was bound by honor, tradition, 
and precedent to act as the protector of its little Slavic kinsmen in 
the Balkans! 

After the failure of his Balkan diplomacy, Izvolsky became con- 
vinced that the Straits could be obtained only by a war. Therefore 
he logically decided to see if he could not get them by a local war 
rather than by a general European war, provided peace could be 

^^ A fact revealed to the writer by Count Povirtales (German Ambassador to 
Russia in 1914) in 1927. 

54 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

maintained on the larger scale. He helped to organize the Balkan 
League in 1912 and urged the Balkan states on to a war against 
Turkey, hoping that the former would be victorious and that Russia 
could then use its influence with them to secure the Straits. The 
Balkan states soon began fighting among themselves, however, and 
this third plan of Izvolsky's collapsed. 

He then became convinced that only a European war would bring 
the Straits to Russia, and the Russian government in time followed 
him in this decision. Such was the state of affairs in the Near East in 

In the Morocco crises of 1905 and 1911, Gemany was in the right, 

but its diplomatic methods left much to be desired as to both tact 
and finesse.^^ In 1905, Germany insisted that France should not be 
allowed to occupy northern Africa without taking the other Euro- 
pean nations into consideration, and in 191 1 it endeavored to prevent 
France from violating the Pact of Algeciras, which had been drawn 
up at the close of the first Morocco crisis. Incidentally, in the last 
Morocco crisis (1911) Germany desired to break down the Anglo- 
French Alliance, but only made it firmer and more bellicose.^^ 

The most important result of the second Morocco crisis was its 
effect upon internal French politics. The French jingoes attacked 
Caillaux for his pacific policies in 191 1 and drove this great French 
statesman from power, supplanting him by the able and valiant 
but revengeful and bellicose Raymond Poincare. Had Caillaux re- 
mained in power, there is little probability that Izvolsky could 
have brought France around to a warlike policy by 1914. 

In the two Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907 Germany made 
a rather worse showing than the other major European states by 
being more frank about its attitude toward war and armament. 
Germany was no more opposed to land disarmament than was 
France and no more opposed to naval reduction than was Great 
Britain. But it did not conceal its attitudes on these subjects from 

^^ Cf. O. J. Hale, Germany and the Diplomatic Revolution, University of 
Pennsylvania Press, 1931. The Casablanca crisis of 1908 was not important; it 
was settled by the Hague Court. 

^"Indeed, England seems to have been more eager for a test of arms in 191 1 
than either France or Germany. The writer possesses first-hand information 
that, in 191 1, the English urged Caillaux to adopt an attitude which would 
probably have led to war had he yielded to British advice. 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 55 

the public as carefully as did France and Great Britain, and made 
a less hypocritical show of pacific intentions. To this degree Ger- 
many was diplomatically less competent than the other states. The 
disarmament proposals, started by Russia, were not made in good 
faith, as Count Witte later admitted. Finally, there were no serious 
plans submitted at The Hague for the arbitration of any of the real 
causes of wars. Therefore the common allegation that Germany at 
The Hague prevented Europe from putting an end to all wars a 
decade or more before 1914 is seen to be pure fiction. But Germany's 
candor, in other words, its diplomatic stupidity, enabled its enemies 
to portray Germany as the outstanding challenge to the peace of 

We may therefore say that from 1870 to 1912 the responsibility 
for diplomatic arrangements likely to make for war was divided. 
On the whole, however, with the doubtful exception of England, 
Germany had the best record of any of the major states during this 
period. After a most careful examination of the Grosse Politi]{, 
reviewing German policy from 1870 to 191 4, Professor Fay came 
to the following conclusions: 

While it is true that Germany, no less than all the other Great 
Powers, did some things which contributed to produce a situation 
which ultimately resulted in the World War, it is altogether false 
to say that she deliberately plotted to bring it about or was solely 
responsible for it. On the contrary, she worked more effectively than 
any other Great Power, except England, to avert it, not only in the 
last days of July, 1914, but also in the years immediately preceding.^^ 

h^olsky's Diplomatic Kevolution: 1^12-1914 

In 1910, Izvolsky, who had been Russian Foreign Minister since 
1906, resigned to become Ambassador to France. This he did in 
part because of the Russian criticism of his failure to secure the 
Straits in 1908 and the resentment over the Russian humiliation that 
followed. He accepted the new appointment chiefly, however, be- 
cause he believed that he could do more in Paris than in St. Peters- 
burg to forward the desirable Franco-Russian diplomatic maneu- 
vers. During 1910-11 he was unable to make much headway, as 

^^ S. B. Fay, in Die Kriegsschuldfrage, December, 1926, p. 903. 

56 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

Caillaux and the friends of peace were in power in Paris and a 
pacifically inclined ambassador, Georges Louis, represented France 
at St. Petersburg. In January, 19 12, the Caillaux group was super- 
seded by Poincare and his supporters. This marked a momentous 
turning point in European international relations. These two able 
diplomats, Izvolsky and Poincare, had at heart goals that could only 
be realized by one and the same method, namely a war with Ger- 
many. Izvolsky contended that "the road to Constantinople runs 
through Berlin," and Poincare's Hfe passion, as he himself confessed, 
was to recover Alsace-Lorraine, which could be achieved only by a 
victory over Germany. Poincare once asserted in an address to uni- 
versity students: 

In my years at school, my thoughts, made somber by the defeat, 
were always crossing the frontier that the Treaty of Frankfort had 
imposed upon us, and when I descended from my metaphysical 
clouds I could discover no other reason why my generation should 
go on Hving except for the hope of recovering our lost provinces.^^ 

This is a matter of great importance, for Poincare and his group 
represented the first Republican bloc willing to go to war for Alsace 
and Lorraine. Hitherto, the active French Revanchards had been, 
for the most part, Royalists and enemies of the Third Republic. 
Plenty of Republicans had hoped for the return of the provinces, 
but no party of them had been willing to face the responsibility of 
waging a war to recover them. The linking of the Straits and 
Alsace-Lorraine as the common program of France and Russia, once 
a European war broke out, had of course been long taken for 
granted as a vital part of the Franco-Russian Alliance.^^ 

Izvolsky reported to his home goveriunent that he "felt like a 
new man" after his first conference with Poincare. While the two 

^^ Cited by Mathias Morhardt, Les Preuves, Paris, 1924, p. 135. 

^^As early as 1910, Georges Louis, French Ambassador in Russia, tells how, 
for many years, the Straits and Alsace-Lorraine had been inseparably con- 
nected in Franco-Russian diplomacy: "In the Alliance, Constantinople and the 
Straits form the counterpart of Alsace-Lorraine. It is not specifically written 
down in any definite agreement, but it is the supreme goal of the Alliance 
that one takes for granted. If the Russians open the question of the Straits 
with us, we must respond: 'Yes, the day you aid us with respect to Alsace- 
Lorraine.' I have discovered the same idea in the correspondence of Hanotaux 
with Montebello." (Cited by E. M. A. Judet, Georges Louis, Paris, 1925, p. 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 57 

men disliked each other personally, distrusted each other to some 
degree, and differed frequently over details, they worked together 
cordially in all broad matters of diplomacy. 

Their first practical step was the negotiation of a naval treaty 
between France and Russia in July, 1912, the miUtary alliance of 
the two states having been completed nearly twenty years before. 

In August, 1912, Poincare visited St. Petersburg. There he learned 
much more of the ambitious Russian plans in regard to the Straits 
and other territorial readjustments. He seems to have been con- 
vinced that France must co-operate enthusiastically to gain its ob- 
jectives in the dual arrangement. It was made perfectly clear to 
Poincare that France had little prospect of obtaining Alsace-Lorraine 
unless it was done at the same time that Russia made war to ob- 
tain the Straits.^^ On November 17, 1912, Poincare informed Izvolsky 
that if a crisis broke out in the Balkans and brought Russia into 
war against Austria, and if Germany followed to protect Austria, 
then France would most certainly aid Russia and fulfill all the 
terms of the Franco-Russian Alliance. From then onward it was 
chiefly a matter of getting ready for the crisis when the latter ar- 

November, 1912, was second in importance only to July, 1914, 
in witnessing events that helped on the World War. It was in this 
month (i) that Poincare pledged France to execute its full obliga- 
tions to Russia in support of Russian diplomacy in the Balkans; 
(2) that Grey pledged British naval, and, by implication, military, 

^* One of the most famous of contemporary French statesmen, M. Joseph 
Caillaux, in speaking to the present writer, of Poincare and Izvolsky, rather 
colorfully compared them to Jesus and the Devil, respectively, the difference 
being that in 1912 Poincare actually capitulated to the diabolical suggestions 
of Izvolsky. It is the belief of some of the best historical students who have 
gone through the Russian source-material that Poincare's collapse before 
temptation was chiefly the result of his Russian visit in 1912. Before that, he 
had contemplated war as a possible eventuality. After the return from St. 
Petersburg, he came to regard it as almost a certainty to be prepared for and 
accepted at the most advantageous moment, preferably not until after the 
Franco-Russian military plans had been completed. 

Some historians have pointed to the fact that Poincare was scandalized in 
the summer of 1912 when he learned of Russia's patronage of the Balkan 
League and that France had been kept in the dark about it for four months. 
But it was the last fact — the Russian secrecy — that scandalized him, not the 
Russian policy of aggression in the Balkans. 

^° Cf. Friedrich Stieve, Isvolsf(y and the World War, Knopf, 1926, pp. 1 13-14. 

58 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

support to France; and (3) that Russia drew up its secret military 
protocol in which it was stated that when the war crisis came, 
diplomatic negotiations were to be employed mainly to screen 
mihtary preparations leading to war. 

The Russian army had made a poor showing against the Japa- 
nese in 1905. Though something had since been done to improve 
the Russian military situation, the French believed that much further 
preparation was essential. Hence, the French made large loans to the 
Russians, on condition that they should be spent under French 
supervision, chiefly for munitions and strategic railroads to the Ger- 
man frontier. The Russians also greatly increased the size of their 
army and the French reciprocated by enacting the Three-year 
Service Act, thus notably adding to the active French army. 

In 1911-12 Izvolsky had found French opinion generally opposed 
to having France enter a European war over the Balkans. Something 
had to be done about this if the French public was to be made to 
support the diplomatic plans of Poincare and Izvolsky. Some of 
the French money lent to Russia was, therefore, sent back to be 
used by Izvolsky in bribing the leading French papers to publish 
incendiary articles against Austria and Germany and to make it 
appear that it was to the interest of France to block the alleged 
Austro-German intrigues in the Balkans.^^ 

Many of the leading French papers were on the pay roll of Izvol- 
sky. The list included the Temps, the leading Paris paper, as well as 
the organs of Millerand and Clemenceau. Hundreds of thousands of 
francs were dispensed in this way, Izvolsky ultimately putting the 
papers on a monthly-payment basis and withdrawing his subvention 
if they failed to be useful to him. He wrote home to his government 
frequently, telling them of the success of his campaign and asking 
for further finds. After the press campaign had been operating for 
some time, so Izvolsky wrote, the French were impatient because 
the Russians were so complacent about Austria's threats against 

Izvolsky even imported Russian gold to assist in the election of 

^ See H. E. Barnes, The Genesis of the World War (Knopf, 1929 edition), 
pp. 119 ff. Andre Tardieu contributed many articles in this press campaign. 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 59 

Poincare to the French presidency early in 1913.^^ A French Prime 
Minister can be easily overthrown, but a President holds office for 
seven years, and a forceful man like Poincare, by approving weak 
Foreign Ministers, could direct French foreign policy about as 
easily in the President's office as in the much more precarious posi- 
tion of Prime Minister. In fact, Poincare told Izvolsky after his 
election to the presidency that he proposed to be his own Foreign 
Minister, and this he was right down through the outbreak of the 
World War.28 

In order to keep their plans moving smoothly it was desirable 
for Poincare and Izvolsky to have a sympathetic French ambassador 
in St. Petersburg. M. Georges Louis, who held the office in 1912, 
was a member of the old Caillaux regime and was opposed to the 
bellicose schemes of Poincare and Izvolsky. Therefore, he was re- 
moved and replaced by M. Theophile Delcasse, second only to Poin- 
care as an apostle of the war of revenge among the Republicans of 
France. Poincare cleverly arranged it so that the Russians seemingly 
requested M. Louis's recall. With Delcasse and his successor, M. 
Paleologue, as the French ambassadors in St. Petersburg, there was 
no longer any danger of opposition to the policies of Poincare and 
Izvolsky from this quarter. 

It was also necessary to convince Sergei Sazonov, the Russian 
Foreign Minister, of the necessity of a European war to obtain the 
Straits. This was done (i) by a ceaseless bombardment of letters 
written by Izvolsky from Paris; (2) by Sazonov's consciousness that 
the Balkan wars had proved futile as a means of obtaining the 
Straits for Russia; and (3) by Sazonov's resentment when, in 1913, 
a German general, Liman von Sanders, was sent to Constantinople 
to train the Turkish army.^® 

Hence, on December 8, 1913, Sazonov sent a famous memorandum 
to the Tsar stating that Russia could not tolerate any other nation 
in control of the Straits, that Russia must have the Straits, and that 
Russia could obtain the Straits only by a European war. On De- 

^^ Stieve, op. cit., pp. 128-36. 

^^ Ibid., p. 134. 

^^This was no worse than what had already taken place, namely, that an 
English admiral had been put in charge of die Turkish navy, but England was 
friendly with Russia. 

6o THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

cember 31, 1913, and February 8, 1914, the Russians held long and 
secret ministerial councils at which they carefully laid out the 
strategy to be followed when this war came. The Tsar approved the 
minutes of these councils in March, 1914. Incidentally, Sazonov 
mentioned the fact that English aid must be assured if France and 
Russia were to hope to crush Germany, though he thought that they 
could probably defeat Germany and Austria even if England did 
not intervene on the side of France and Russia.^^ 

This brings us to the final scene in the dramatic revolution of 
European diplomacy from 1912 to 1914, namely, getting England 
so involved in the Franco-Russian net that it scarcely hesitated in 
the crisis of 1914. In the Morocco crisis of 191 1, through the Mansion 
House speech of Lloyd George, the British government had Hned 
up decisively with France against Germany and had done all it 
could to inspire in the British press an anti-German tone. But both 
Caillaux and the German leaders were inclined toward peace, 
and war was averted. In September, 1912, Sazonov visited London 
in behalf of an Anglo-Russian naval alHance. While he was not 
immediately successful in this, he received from the British hearty 
assurance of naval co-operation against Germany in the event of 
war and was told of a secret engagement to help France if war 
broke out.^^ In late November, 1912, Poincare induced Sir Edward 
Grey to agree to an arrangement whereby the French fleet could 
be concentrated in the Mediterranean Sea while the British fleet 
could be relied upon to protect the French Channel ports. In 1912, 
also, Poincare was able to help frustrate the possible Anglo-German 
agreement growing out of Lord Haldane's visit to Germany. In 
April, 19 14, the British King and Grey went to Paris and there Grey, 
with Izvolsky and Poincare, laid the basis for an Anglo-Russian 
naval alliance that was moving towards completion in June, 1914.^^ 

^° A view shared by the French and Russian General StafFs in the spring of 
1914. It is quite true, as certain Russian writers have insisted, that the holding 
of these council meetings does not prove that Russia was planning war imme- 
diately, but it does show that Russia was very seriously considering the prospect 
of a war that would not have to be started by an aggressive German action 
against Russia. (Compare Prof. Schmitt's horror over the dubious Moltke- 
Conrad "understanding of 1909.") 

^^ Cf. Stieve, op. cit., pp. 89-90. 

*^ Ibid., pp. 197 £F. 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 6i 

The fact that, nevertheless, England and Germany seemed to be 
coming to an agreement over Portuguese colonies in Africa, the 
Bagdad Railway project, and German armament alarmed the 
French and Russians early in 1914 and probably explains why they 
decided in July, 1914, that the European war should be fought be- 
fore England might shp away from the Triple Entente. France 
and Russia never felt absolutely certain of British support until 
August, 1914, though the British documents show that the British 
Foreign Office never had any doubts about its obligations to the 
Entente in the crisis of 1914, and made its decision to come in on 
the side of France and Russia in July, 1914, without reference to 
the Belgian question.^^ As the eminent English publicist, E. D. 
Morel, once remarked, the French and Russians had thoroughly 
"hooked" the British by the close of 1912, even if Izvolsky and 
Poincare did not entirely realize that they had done so. 

While Northcliflfe was bringing the Tory public and the British 
masses round to his bellicose point of view,^^ the imperialistic and 
nationalistic propaganda was being successfully spread among the 
British Liberals by J. Alfred Spender, editor of the Westminster 
Gazette and chief upholder of imperialism and Continental en- 
tanglements among the Liberal newspapermen of England. Spender 
was probably a more dangerous influence than Northcliffe, for a 
Liberal government was in power in 1914 and the Liberals were not 
likely to be greatly influenced by the Tory press.^^ 

In this way Izvolsky and Poincare transformed the character of 
European diplomacy in the two years prior to 1914 and were ready 
for whatever crisis arose. They did not originally expect that 1914 
would be the year of the decisive crisis which would bring on the 

^^ Fully confirmed by Lord Morley's Memorandum on Resignation, Mac- 
millan, 1928. 

^* See A. G. Gardner's slashing denunciation of the war-monger, Northclifle, 
reprinted in Barnes, In Quest of Truth and Justice, 1928, pp. 30 ff. 

^^ A member of the Bridsh cabinet in 1914 informed the writer in 1927 that 
he regarded Spender as second only to the war clique in the cabinet among 
those who made it possible for Grey to throw England into the conflict. It 
might be mentioned in this connection that it was Spender who helped Lord 
Grey write his apologia, Twenty-five Years. 

(See Spender's apology, Fifty Years of Europe, Stokes, 1933. In an amazing 
review of the book in the New York ISfaiion, G. P. Gooch called Spender a 
sincere friend of peace.) 

62 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

European war. They had anticipated that this would come at the 
death of Francis Joseph, which they beHeved would bring about 
a serious Austro-Balkan clash. When the Archduke Francis Ferdi- 
nand was assassinated in the summer o£ 1914, they appear to have 
concluded that the potential Anglo-German rapprochement was 
too dangerous to allow the test to be postponed. England was 
known not to make wars lightly, and there was little hope that 
France and Russia unaided could speedily crush Germany and 
Austria. In any event, it seems certain that they decided that if 
a diplomatic crisis arose through Austrian demands upon Serbia, 
it would be better to fight than for Russia, and with it the Triple 
Entente, to accept humiUation and the resulting loss of prestige.^^ 
While the Triple Entente was thus being more firmly cemented 
and made aggressive in character, the Triple Alliance was disin- 
tegrating. Italy, placated over northern Africa, had made a secret 
agreement with France in 1902 to the effect that it would enter no 
war against France. Though the Germans counted on Italian aid in 
1914, we know there was little chance of their obtaining such 
assistance. Then, from 1912 to 1914, there was considerable friction 
between Germany and Austria over Serbia. The Austrians felt 
that Serbia must be punished in order to stop Russo-Serbian in- 
trigues in the Balkans. The Kaiser, however, under the influence 
of the pro-Serbian German minister in Belgrade, Baron J. A. von 
Griesinger, opposed any imminent Austrian aggression and twice 
prevented an Austrian offensive against Serbia.^^ 

^^ Poincare has denied the truth of this indictment which we have been able 
to formulate on the basis of the Izvolsky correspondence and other documents, 
but he has been unable to bring forward any French documents that convinc- 
ingly contradict Izvolsky's general interpretation of affairs. Moreover, there is 
little probability that Izvolsky would have dared to He persistently to his 
chief, Sazonov, regarding matters of such vital concern for the foreign policy 
of his country and for his own diplomatic ambitions. He had suffered enough 
in 1909 from failure to make good his assurances. Professor William L. Langer, 
the foremost American authority on pre-war Russian diplomacy, in reviewing 
the Izvolsky correspondence, writes: "When all is said and done this corre- 
spondence still formulates the most serious indictment of Franco-Russian pre- 
war policy and lends considerable color to the theory that there was a con- 
spiracy against the peace of the world." {Political Science Quarterly, December, 
1927, p. 656.) 

''^ The Austrian journalist, Heinrich Kanner, a disgrunded enemy of the old 
regime in Austria, together with Professor Bernadotte Schmitt, have claimed 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 63 

In the first half of the year 1914 many developments were taking 
place which were likely to make any crisis in that year pregnant 
with the probability of a European war. The growing Anglo- 
German amiability^^ greatly worried the French and Russians and 
made them feel that any considerable delay of the European 
war was dangerous. The Tory cUque in England was favorable to 
a European war. Not only were the Tories bellicose and anti- 
German, but a war would help stop the menacing social reforms of 
the Liberal party in England, particularly the proposed land re- 
forms, and also make it more difficult to enforce the new Irish 
Home Rule Act. The Northchffe press was demanding war against 
Germany, partly because of its Tory sympathies and partly be- 
cause a war was good business for newspapers. As has been noted, 
Russia had decided that it must have the Straits and could only 
obtain them by a European war, and had held two long ministerial 
councils in December, 1913, and February, 1914, to decide on the 
proper strategy for this war. 

In March, 1914, the Russian General, G. N. Danilov, congratu- 
lated his country on its readiness for the impending conflict and, 
in June, General V. A. SukhomHnov, the Russian Minister of 
War, boasted that Russia was ready for war and that France must 
also be ready. This was done in part to silence the foes of the 
Three-year Service Act in France. In the spring of 1914 France had 
refused to allow the retirement into the reserves of the class nor- 
mally entitled to leave active service that year, thus having four 
classes instead of two with the colors in July, 1914. The Tsar had 
received the Serbian Premier, Nikola Pasic, in February, 1914, 
asked him how many men Serbia could put in the field if war came, 
promised him arms and ammunition from Russia, and told him to 

to find in the memoirs of Conrad von Hotzendorf, the former Austrian Chief 
of Staff, evidence of a dark Austro-German war plot secretly laid in 1909 and 
executed in 1914. Professor Fay, Count Montgelas, and others have shown 
that there is no factual foundation whatever for this "Schmitt-Kanner Myth." 

(Cf. S. B. Fay, American Historical Review, January, 1927, pp. 317-19; and 
Count M. M. K. S. Montgelas, "Une nouvelle these relative a la question des 
responsabilites," Revue de Hongrie, Nov. 15, 1926.) 

^^ Expressed by Lloyd George and Haldane, for example, not by Grey and 

64 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

inform the Serbian King that Russia would do all in its power 
to aid Serbia.^^ 

From the reports of the ministerial conferences of December 31, 
1913, and February 8, 1914, we can readily perceive that Sazonov 
had seized the helm with determination and knew in what direc- 
tion he was steering the Muscovite craft. 

By January, 1914, the plot to murder the Archduke Francis 
Ferdinand, heir presumptive to the Austrian throne, was under 
consideration, and by March it had taken definite form. In May it 
was perfected by officers in the Serbian army, and it has been 
charged that high Russian military authorities had approved of it 
and had promised Russian aid in the event of an Austrian attack 
upon Serbia.^" 

The Russian minister in Belgrade, Nicholas von Hartwig, was 
organizing a widespread Balkan intrigue against Austria, and the 
Austrians captured many of his telegrams and decoded them. This 
enabled the Austrian statesmen to know of the Russo-Balkan menace 
to the Dual Monarchy. Before the murder of the Archduke they 
had drawn up a memorandum to be taken to Berlin, asking for 
German aid in thwarting the Russian intrigues in the Balkans. 
They particularly desired Germany to drop Rumania and to take 

^^ In his memoirs, Sir Edward Grey represents Russia as drifting into war 
because of lack of any decisive policy or leadership: "Perhaps it may be true 
to say, of Russia, that she was like a huge, unwieldy ship, which in time of 
agitation kept an uncertain course; not because she was directed by malevolent 
intentions, but because the steering-gear was weak." {Twenty-five Years, i8g2- 
igi6, Stokes, 1925, 2 vols.. Vol. II, pp. 23.) It is interesting to compare Grey's 
view with Sazonov's direct denial, embodied in his memorandum to the Tsar 
on December 8, 1913, telling him that Russia must have the Straits, and in 
all probability could secure them only by war: 

"In considering the future and in impressing upon ourselves that the main- 
tenance of peace, so much desired, will not always lie in our power, we are 
forced not to limit ourselves to the problems of today and tomorrow. This we 
must do in order to escape the reproach so often made of the Russian ship of 
state, namely, that it is at the mercy of the winds and drifts with the current, 
without a rudder capable of firmly directing her course." 

*° There is no evidence that Sazonov and the Russian Foreign Office knew 
anything about the Serbian assassination plot. Indeed, Count Pourtales, the Ger- 
man ambassador in St. Petersburg in 1914, informed the writer in the summer 
of 1927 that he was thoroughly convinced that Sazonov was entirely innocent 
in this matter. Sazonov was at tea in the German Embassy when news was 
brought to him of the murder of the Archduke. He was obviously surprised 
and shocked. 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 65 

on Bulgaria as the pivotal state for Austro-German diplomacy in 
the Balkans. 

The Serbian government was aware of the assassination plot for at 
least three weeks before the murder of Francis Ferdinand, but it 
took no active steps to frustrate the scheme or to warn Austria of 
the danger that was awaiting the Archduke when he visited Bosnia. 
Such was the state of affairs when the Archduke Francis Ferdinand 
was shot down on the streets of Sarajevo on St. Vitus' Day, June 28, 

In regard to this third level of war responsibility, that residing 
in diplomatic developments from 1912 to 1914, we may, thus, hold 
that the guilt was mainly that of imperial Russia, aided and abetted 
by Serbia, and to a lesser degree that of France; while Germany, 
England, and Austria had the cleanest record. 

The Diplomatic Crisis of June-August^ 1^14 

After the Archduke's assassination, France and Russia recognized 
that the impending clash between Austria and Serbia might bring 
about a European conflict. The year 1914 was a particularly desir- 
able time for the Entente, because there was imminent danger that 
England might develop more happy relations with Germany, and 
that the French Radicals might be able to secure the repeal of 
the French Army Bill. Russia, moreover, was threatened by another 
revolution, perhaps more serious than that of 1905. Poincare went 
to St. Petersburg, and, before even learning the terms of the Aus- 
trian ultimatum, renewed his pledge of two years earlier to support 
Russia in a war over the Balkans. He indicated that the impending 
Austro-Serbian conflict would meet the conditions demanded by 
the French in supporting Russian intervention in that region. 

The Franco-Russian program in 1914 was to force Serbia to make 
a formal show of conciliation and concessions and to indicate an 
apparent Franco-Russian willingness to settle the dispute through 
diplomacy. Underneath, secret Franco-Russian military preparations 
were carried on that would ultimately make a diplomatic settlement 
impossible. Hence, Russia urged Serbia not to declare war on 
Austria, and, to insure a superficially conciliatory Serbian reply to 
Austria, the Serbian response to the Austrian ultimatum was drafted 

e^ THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

in outline by Undersecretary Philippe Berthelot and others in the 
French Foreign Office.^^ Russia did not desire to have Serbia 
precipitate matters prematurely or unfavorably by a declaration of 
war on Austria. This w^ould have affected European opinion, par- 
ticularly English opinion, unfavorably and would also have brought 
about Austro-German military activities altogether too rapidly for 
Russia, whose mobilization over a vast area would necessarily be 
slow as compared to that of Austria and Germany. 

On July 24, when the terms of the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia 
were made public, Russia and France began a dual program, namely, 
a diplomatic barrage combined with secret military preparations 
which made a European war inevitable by the late afternoon of July 
30. Russia sent a diplomatic message to Serbia counseling modera- 
tion, but at the same time prepared for the mobilization of the four 
great military districts of central and southern Russia, as well as of 
the Russian fleets. Russian money in Germany and Austria was 
called in. 

On the same day (July 24) Premier Rene Viviani, on his way back 
from St. Petersburg, telegraphed to the French Foreign Office that 
the Austro-Serbian situation was likely to develop serious European 
complications, and the French troops in Morocco were ordered 
home. Both Russia and France began systematic military prepara- 
tions for war on July 26. By July 29 the time had come when Rus- 
sian military preparations had gone far enough to warrant a gen- 
eral mobilization, which would inevitably provoke war, and the Tsar 
was persuaded to consent to issue this fateful order. A conciliatory 
telegram from the Kaiser, urging peace, however, induced the 
Tsar to revoke it, but the next day Sazonov and close associates 
once more extracted from the Tsar his reluctant consent to the 
order for general mobilization. This time it was not revoked. 

The French and the Russians had understood for a generation that 
once Russian general mobilization was ordered there would be no 
way of preventing a general European war. General Sergei Dobro- 
rolsky, chief of Russian mobilization in 1914, has told us with great 
candor that the Russian authorities in 1914 fully realized that a 

*^ Berthelot once admitted to Jacques Mesnil, editor of L'Humanite, that he 
had drafted the Serbian reply in outUne. 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 67 

European war was on as soon as the ominous mobilization order 
had been sent out from the general telegraph office in St. Peters- 
burg, late in the afternoon of July 30. 

The French authorities had been informed as to the general 
nature and progress of the fateful Russian military preparations, 
but they made no effort to restrain them, though the French well 
knew that these military activities were bound to render a Euro- 
pean war inevitable. They actually urged the Russians to speed up 
their miUtary preparations, but to be more secretive about them, so 
as not to alienate England or provoke Germany to rapid counter- 
mobilization. On the night of July 31 the French government went 
still further and enthusiastically decided for war, handing this in- 
formation to Izvolsky about midnight. 

The Austrian statesmen in 1914, in turn, had decided that the 
time had come when it would be necessary to suppress the Serbian 
menace, and they consciously planned an ultimatum of such severity 
that it would be unlikely that Serbia would concede the demands. 
The plan, then, was to make a show of diplomacy but to move to- 
ward probable war. This program was much like that of France 
and Russia, save for the crucial fact that Austria desired to produce 
only a local punitive war, while the plans of France and Russia en- 
visaged a general European conflict. This is the most important point 
to be borne in mind when estimating the relative war guilt of Aus- 
tria as against that of France and Russia^^ 

Germany, lately friendly to Serbia, was alarmed by the assassina- 
tion of the Archduke and the resulting menace to its chief ally. 
Germany, therefore, agreed to stand behind Austria and support the 
plan of the latter to punish Serbia. 

The answer of the Serbians to the Austrian ultimatum, however, 
impressed the Kaiser as a satisfactory basis for further negotiations. 
On July 27, in co-operation with Sir Edward Grey, Germany began 
to urge upon Austria direct negotiations with Russia and the medi- 
ation of its dispute with Serbia. Austria refused to listen to this 
advice and declared war upon Serbia on July 28. Germany then be- 

*^ Then, there was the fact that, while the very existence of Austria-Hungary 
was at stake in punishing Serbia, only Russian prestige and Pan-Slavism were 
involved in Russia's war to protect Serbia. 

68 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

came alarmed at the rumored Russian military preparations and 
vigorously pressed Austria for a diplomatic settlement of the dis- 
pute. Austria did not give way and consent to this until July 31, 
which was too late to avert a general European war because the 
Russian mobilization was then in full swing.^^ Germany endeavored 
without success to secure the suspension of military activities by 
Russia, and then, after unexpected hesitation and deliberation, de- 
clared war upon Russia. 

The Russian general mobilization, undertaken with the full 
connivance of the French ambassador in St. Petersburg and ap- 
proved by Paris before it was ordered, was decided upon at a time 
when diplomatic negotiations were moving rapidly towards a satis- 
factory settlement of the major problems in the crisis. Hence, the 
Russian general mobilization not only precipitated military hos- 
tilities; it was the main reason for the failure of diplomatic efforts 
in 1914. 

England was for peace but was determined to fight in case France 
was involved. France decided, from the beginning, to stand with 
Russia in working for war. Since England refused to attempt to 
restrain either France or Russia, England was inevitably drawn 
away from encouragement of the German efforts to find a diplo- 
matic solution of the crisis and into support of the military action 
of France and Russia. 

England made the decision to enter the war in 1914 after Ger- 
many had proposed to keep out of Belgium and to refrain from 
attacking France if England would remain neutral.^* In fact, Ger- 

*^ Count Leopold von Berchtold, the Austrian Foreign Minister in 1914, 
explained fully and candidly to the writer in 1927 why he did not heed Ger- 
many's pressure before July 31. He stated that the Austro-Hungarian statesmen 
were convinced that a continuance of the Serbian threat was a greater menace 
to the Dual Monarchy than a war between Germany and Austria, on the one 
side, and France and Russia, on the other. He had plenty of assurance from 
the British Embassy in Vienna that England would most certainly not inter- 
vene to protect Serbia. Counting on English neutrality, he was determined to 
punish Serbia after the latter had refused to accede to the only really important 
items in the Austrian ultimatum. By July 31, Berchtold was finally convinced 
that England would come in if Germany and France went to war. He then 
moderated his policy, but the Russian mobilization made the change too late. 
Lord Grey's evasive and two-faced conduct of British diplomacy in 1914 thus 
played a very important part in Austrian policy and in the coming of the war. 

** Cf. British Official Documents on the Origins of the War, 1898-1914, ed. by 
G. P. Gooch and Harold Tempcrley, Bridsh Library of Information, 1926-32, 
II vols., VoL XI, No- 448. 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 69 

many even suggested that it might guarantee the integrity o£ France 
and the French colonies in the event o£ war if England w^ould prom- 
ise neutrality.'*^ The Belgian issue in England was a pure subter- 
fuge, cleverly exploited by Grey to inflame British and world opin- 
ion against Germany and to secure British support of his war policy. 

Even if Grey had wished personally to listen to his major ambassa- 
dors and to take steps to check France and Russia, he would have 
found it difficult to do so because he was constantly inflamed by the 
passionate anti-Germanism of Sir Eyre Crowe, Undersecretary of 
State for Foreign Affairs, who put the worst possible interpretation 
on every German move in the crisis and held Britain's course stead- 
fastly towards war.^^ 

In estimating the order of guilt of the various countries we may 
safely say that the direct and immediate responsibility for the World 
War falls upon Serbia, France, and Russia, with the guilt about 
equally distributed. Next in order — far below France and Russia — 
would come Austria, though it never desired a general European 
war. Finally, we should place England and Germany, in the order 
named, both being opposed to war in the 1914 crisis. Probably the 
German pubUc was somewhat more favorable to military activities 
than were the English people, but, as we have amply explained 
above, the Kaiser made more strenuous efforts to preserve the peace 
of Europe in 1914 than did Sir Edward Grey. 

It has been declared futile and illogical to try to Hst the European 
Powers in any rank or order of guilt, on the ground that they were 
all involved in the morass of diplomatic squabbles and intrigues of 
19 14. This view, however, challenges the elementary logic applied 
every day in courts of law. Principals and accomplices are all in- 
volved, let us say, in a murder. But the court is able to distinguish 
among them, and pleas of first-degree murder, second-degree mur- 
der, and manslaughter are all permitted. It has further been main- 
tained that it is unfair to say that Russia, for example, was guilty in 
1914, because many Russians knew nothing about the issues of the 
war and many more were opposed to its onset. It should be obvious 
that we are not engaged in the unfair task of indicting a nation. We 

*^ Ibid., Vol. XI, Nos. 419, 448, 453. 

*^Cf. Hermann Lutz, Lord Grey and the World War, Knopf, 1928, pp. 
218-19, 235. 238, 244-45, 252-53, 266-67, 287, 289-90, 294, 300. 

70 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

refer only to those statesmen who were responsible in 1914 for the 
public policy of their respective states and compelled each country 
to act as a unit.^^ 

Some writers whose accounts of pre-war diplomacy do not differ 
materially from that presented in this chapter have, nevertheless, 
maintained that no important responsible statesman in 1914 wanted 
war for war's sake alone — or wanted war in the abstract. We might 
go even further and concede that nobody in 1914 wanted war if he 
could get what he wanted without war. Probably Izvolsky can be 
charged with more responsibiUty for the World War than any other 
single person. Yet we have already made clear that even he accepted 
war only as a last resort in his campaign to get the Straits. He tried 
diplomacy twice, in 1908 and in 191 1, and then he quite humanely 
and discreetly had recourse to a "Httle war" — the Balkan Wars of 
1912-13. Only when all these efforts failed did he reconcile himself 
to working for a European war to obtain the Straits. It is probable 
that only a handful of half-wits, neurotics, ultra-militarists, and the 
hke wanted war in 1914 in preference to securing national ambitions 
by pacific means. 

The question that we have to settle, however, is not who wanted 

or did not want war under conditions quite different from those 

which existed in Europe in 1914. This is both an insoluble and an 

irrelevant problem. What we have to deal with is the issue of what 

responsible statesmen wished war under the precise conditions that 

developed after June 30, 1914. To this a decisive answer can be given 

today, if such an answer can be given to any historical question 

since the dawn of written history. Certainly Izvolsky, Sazonov, and 

the Grand Duke Nicholas, among the Russians; Poincare, Viviani, 

and Berthelot, among the French; and Pasic and the majority of 

the Serbian cabinet — these thought a European war preferable to 

*^ Another way of stating the ultimate conclusions about the crisis of 1914 
would be to say that only Russia, Serbia, and France wished a general Euro- 
pean war, under the conditions that existed in the summer of 1914; that 
Austria-Hungary wished a local punitive war against Serbia, but desired to 
avert, if possible, a general war; and that Germany, England, and Italy did 
not wish any kind of war, but were too stuoid, dilatory, or involved in en- 
tanglements to prevent either the Austro-Serbian war or the wider conflict. 
The Kaiser had favored an immediate attack on Serbia by Austria right after 
the assassination, but, following the Serbian reply to the Austrian ultimatum, 
he favored negotiations and opposed any general war. 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 71 

permitting Austria to proceed with its punishment of Serbia.'*^ The 
majority of the Austro-Hungarian cabinet beheved a war involving 
France, Russia, Germany, and Austria to be better than refraining 
from the invasion of Serbia, but they did not think it worth risking 
a war in which England would fight on the side of France and 
Russia. The majority of the responsible statesmen of England and 
Germany would have preferred peace to war in 1914, but England 
accepted war rather than attempt to restrain its allies and Germany 
was unable to dissuade its ally from the Austro-Serbian conflict in 
time to save the peace of Europe. It is doubtful if any new facts or 
different logic will ever upset this general line of reasoning. No 
sensible historian would contend that Germany's wish for European 
peace in 1914 was based upon any superior moral virtues of that 
nation. It is to be explained simply by the fact that Germany was 
gaining its ends, selfish ends if you wish, very well indeed by peace- 
ful means, and its statesmen knew that war might place this German 
progress in grave jeopardy. 

The United States and the First World War 

We may now consider the forces, factors, and personalities which 
brought the United States into the war. 

The United States could not have been more perfectly set up for 
neutrality than it was in July and August, 1914. President Woodrow 
Wilson was a lifelong and deeply conscientious pacifist. His convic- 
tions in this matter were not emotional or impressionistic, but had 
been based upon deep study and prolonged reflection. Moreover, he 
was married to a woman noted for pacific sentiments and firm con- 
victions on such matters. She strongly backed up her husband in his 
pacific beliefs and poUcies. As Secretary of State, we had in WilHam 
Jennings Bryan the world's outstanding pacifist. His pacifism was 
notably courageous; he was willing to stick by his guns even in the 
face of malicious criticism. 

Moreover, Wilson was almost uniquely well informed as to the 
essentials of the European situation before war broke out in the 

*^ Those in the Serbian, Russian and French cabinets, if any, who were 
personally opposed to war were, of course, in time carried along with the 
bellicose majority. 

72 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

summer o£ 1914. He had sent his personal representative, Colonel 
Edward M. House, to Europe to study the international situation 
and to report to him upon it. Whatever his later mistakes. Colonel 
House sized up matters in Europe with almost perfect sagacity and 
understanding in May, 1914. He concluded his observations with 
the statement that "whenever England consents, France and Russia 
will close in on Germany." 

If one were to summarize, as briefly as this, the outcome of the 
years of scholarly study since 1918, with respect to responsibility for 
the World War, a more perfect estimate and verdict than Colonel 
House's phrase could not be rendered in the same number of words. 
Further, the Colonel pointed out that, whatever the Kaiser's emo- 
tional shortcomings, he wished for European peace. On the other 
hand, he stated candidly that George V of England was "the most 
pugnacious monarch loose in these parts." 

When war broke out, President Wilson's statements were a model 
of neutral procedure. He issued a formally correct neutrality procla- 
mation and went on to exhort his countrymen to be neutral in 
thought as well as in action. There is no doubt that he was com- 
pletely neutral at heart in August, 1914. Less than three years later, 
however, in April, 1917, he went before Congress and told its mem- 
bers that "God helping her," this country could do no other than 
make war on Germany. Moreover, he returned from the Capitol to 
the White House and made statements to his secretary, Joseph P. 
Tumulty, indicating that, at the time of his war message, he had so 
far changed his attitude that he could not believe he ever had been 
neutral. He cited with approval an article by the correspondent of 
the Manchester Guardian stating that Mr. Wilson had always been 
sympathetic with the Allies and had wished to throw this country 
into war on their side just as soon as circumstances would permit. 

We shall first briefly consider some of the reasons why Wilson 
altered his point of view, since no other set of circumstances could 
alone have forced us into the war, if Wilson had not been favorable 
to our entry by the spring of 1917. 

First and foremost, we must take into account the fact that Wil- 
son's intellectual perspective was predominantly Anglo-Saxon. He 
had little knowledge of, or sympathy with, condnental European 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 73 

culture and institutions. His great intellectual heroes were such 
English writers as John Milton, John Locke, Adam Smith and 
Walter Bagehot. He did his graduate work in the Johns Hopkins 
University Seminar under Herbert Baxter Adams, where the "Anglo- 
Saxon Myth"'*^ reigned supreme. Wilson was a persistent student and 
admirer of the English constitution and frankly regarded the British 
system of government as superior to our own. 

Then Wilson had in his cabinet and among his ambassadors men 
who were intensely pro-English or pro-Ally in their sympathies. 
Such were Secretaries Lindley M. Garrison and David F. Houston. 
Walter Hines Page, our ambassador in London, was even more in- 
tensely pro-English than Wilson. Indeed, he frequently went to such 
excesses as to annoy the President. When Bryan was succeeded by 
Robert Lansing, the most crucial post in the cabinet went to an- 
other vehemently pro-English sympathizer. The biases of Page and 
Lansing made it difficult to pursue forthright diplomacy with Great 

Another major difficulty lay in the fact that President Wilson and 
Secretary Lansing did not formulate and execute a fair and con- 
sistent line of diplomatic procedure. They had one type of interna- 
tional law for England and the Allies, and quite another for Ger- 
many. They all but allowed Great Britain to run wild in the violation 
of international law and of our neutral rights, while they insisted on 
holding Germany "to strict accountability." 

England started out in 1914 by making a scrap of paper out of 
the Declaration of London governing contraband in wartime. Next, 
we proceeded to allow her to make use of armed belligerent mer- 
chantmen as if they were peaceful commercial vessels. England vio- 
lated our neutral rights far more extensively between 1914 and 1917 
than she did before the War of 1812, even to the point of flying the 
American flag. 

Wilson came to believe, however, that Great Britain was fighting 
for civilization and that so trivial a thing as international law must 
not be allowed to stand in her way. Wilson's Attorney-General, 
Thomas W. Gregory, tells of the rebuke which the President admin- 

*® I.e., the idea that American political ideals and liberties are a heritage from 
a racially pure Anglo-Saxon England. 

74 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

istered to certain cabinet members when they protested over the 
flagrant British violation of our neutral rights: "After patiently 
listening, Mr. Wilson said, in that quiet way of his, that the ordinary 
rules of conduct had no application to the situation; that the Allies 
were standing with their backs to the wall, fighting wild beasts; 
that he would permit nothing to be done by our country to hinder 
or embarrass them in the prosecution of the war unless admitted 
rights were grossly violated, and that this policy must be understood 
as settled." Bryan protested against our unfair and unneutral diplo- 
macy and ultimately resigned because he could not square his con- 
science with it. 

Secretary Lansing admits in his Memoirs that he made no real 
pretense of holding England to the tenets of international law. He 
tells us that after the sinking of the Lusitania he thought we should 
be lighting on the side of the Allies and that he was determined to 
do nothing which would prove embarrassing to us when we later 
took up our position as a military comrade of the Allied powers. He 
persisted in this attitude, even though he was honest enough to write 
after the war that in 1917 we had as good, if not better, legal grounds 
for fighting Britain as for fighting Germany. 

Ambassador Page even went so far as to collaborate with Sir 
Edward Grey in answering the protests of his own government, an 
unparalleled procedure which, when revealed, outraged even so 
pro-Ally a journal as the New YorJ^ Times. 

We thus encouraged and perpetuated the illegally extensive Brit- 
ish blockade, which provoked the German submarine warfare. In 
time, we made war on the latter, though it was our unneutral diplo- 
macy which contributed, in large part, to the continuance of both 
the British blockade and the German submarine activities.^" 

Wilson was deeply affected by the criticisms to which he was sub- 
jected by prominent Americans sympathetic with the Allies and in 
favor of intervention on their side. He was stung by the famous 
speeches of Theodore Roosevelt on "The Shadows of Shadow 

^° From the studies of Professor Charles C. Tansill and others, it would seem 
that on the rare occasions when President Wilson and Secretary Lansin? be- 
came outraged over the grossest British violations of our neutrality, Colonel 
House invariably appeared on the spot to prevent even a show of firmness on 
the part of our State Department. 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 75 

Lawn," and by the latter 's reference to Wilson's diplomatic state- 
ments as examples of "weasel words." He was particularly annoyed 
by the statement of Ehhu Root that "first he shakes his fist and 
then he shakes his finger." 

On the other hand, Wilson was human enough to take note of 
the praise which was showered upon him by the press when he made 
a bellicose statement or led a preparedness parade. This contrasted 
sharply with the bitter criticism he evoked when he made a states- 
manlike remark, such as that a country might be "too proud to 
fight," or that the only desirable peace would be "a peace without 

Wilson was also profoundly moved by the British propaganda 
relative to German atrocities and territorial ambitions. This was 
particularly true after Lord Bryce lent his name to the prestige and 
veracity of the propaganda stories as to German savagery. Of all 
living Englishmen, Bryce was probably the man whom Wilson most 
admired and trusted. When Bryce sponsored the propaganda lies, 
Wilson came to believe that they must have a substantial basis in 
fact. This helped on his rationahzation that England was fighting 
the battle of human civilization against wild beasts. 

Personal matters also played their role in the transformation of 
Wilson's attitude. His first wife died and a strong pacific influence 
was removed. He then courted and married a dashing widow who 
was sympathetic with the Allied side and friendly with Washington 
military and naval circles. She was also bitterly resentful of the 
criticism to which Wilson was subjected on account of his refusal to 
be stampeded into intervention. She appears to have wished him to 
take a stronger stand for intervention. The domestic influence on 
the President was, thus, completely transformed in character as a 
result of his second marriage. The publication of Mrs. Wilson's 
Memoirs does not make it necessary to modify this statement. 

When, as an outcome of these various influences, Wilson had 
been converted to intervention, he rationalized his change of atti- 
tude on the basis of a noble moral purpose. As he told Jane Addams 
in the spring of 1917, he felt that the United States must be repre- 
sented at the peace conference which would end the World War if 
there was to be any hope of a just and constructive peace. But Wil- 

76 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

son could be at the peace conference only if the United States had 
previously entered the World War. 

It is still asserted by many writers, such as Professor Charles Sey- 
mour, that the resumption of submarine warfare by Germany was 
the sole reason for Wilson's determination to enter the war on the 
Alhed side. But we know that he had been converted to intervention 
long before January, 1917. A year earlier, he had sent Colonel House 
to Europe with a plan to put us in the war on the side of the Allies 
if Germany would not accept peace terms obviously unfavorable to 
her. But even such peace terms for Germany were rejected by the 
British leaders, who felt sure of American aid anyway and were 
determined to crush Germany. Yet this British rebuff did not lead 
Wilson to lose heart in his efforts to put this country into the war. 

His next step was taken in this country. Early in April,^^ 1916, 
Wilson called into consultation Speaker Champ Clark of the House 
of Representatives and Congressional leaders Claude Kitchin and 
H. D. Flood, and sounded them out to see if they would support 
him in a plan to bring the United States into the war on the side of 
the Allies. This was the famous "Sunrise Conference" described 
later by Gilson Gardner in McNanght's Monthly of June, 1925. 
These men sharply refused to sanction any such policy, and Wilson 
allowed the campaign of 1916 to be fought out on the slogan, "He 
kept us out of war." Wilson did not dare to risk splitting the Demo- 
cratic Party over entry into the war before the campaign of 1916 had 
successfully ended. The existence of the "Sunrise Conference" has 
been fully verified by Professor A. M. Arnett in his scholarly book 
on Claude Kitchin. 

Wilson was convinced after the failure of the "Sunrise Confer- 
ence" that there was no hope of getting the country into war until 
after the election. The sentiment of the nation was for peace. If he 
was elected as an exponent of peace and then went into war the 
country as a whole would believe that he had done his best to "keep 
us out of war." He would have a united country behind him. Hence, 
he and Colonel House sent Governor Martin Glynn of New York 
and Senator Ollie James of Kentucky to the Democratic National 

^^ Professor Tansill believes that this conference was probably held in Febru- 
ary rather than April. I still incline to credit die April date. 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 77 

Convention at St. Louis, in June, 1916, with instructions to make 
keynote speeches emphasizing Wilson's heroic efforts to keep us out 
of war. 

Thus was fashioned the famous slogan "He kept us out of war," 
which re-elected Woodrow Wilson to the presidency almost a year 
after Colonel House, following Wilson's directions, had declared 
that: "The United States would hke Great Britain to do whatever 
would help the United States to aid the AUies."^^ 

The campaign and election of 1916 were very really a referendum 
on war, and the people voted against war. This is illuminating as an 
illustration of the fallacy that a war referendum, such as the Ludlow 
Amendment, would, by itself alone, suffice to keep us out of war, 
but the election of 1916 does offer definite proof that Wilson was not 
pushed into war by popular demand. 

The influence exerted by American finance upon our entry into 
the World War has been revealed in Ray Stannard Baker's Life and 
Letters of Woodrow Wilson, in the volumes of the Nye armament 
investigation, and in Professor C. C. Tansill's America Goes to War. 

At the outset, the international bankers were not by any means 
all pro-Ally. Some, like the Morgan firm, were pro-British, and had 
been for years, while others, Hke Kuhn, Loeb and Company, 
manned chiefly by men of German derivation, were pro-German. 
But the financial interests of all the bankers soon came to be pro- 
Ally, for credit and loans to Germany were discouraged, while 
large loans were presently being made to the Allied powers. 

On August 15, 1914, at the beginning of the war, Bryan declared 
against loans to any belligerent, on the ground that credit is the basis 
of all forms of contraband. President Wilson backed him up. For the 
time being, this position did not operate seriously against the Allies, 
for the balance of trade and investment was against the United 
States, and the AUied countries could pay for their purchases by can- 
celling the debts owed abroad by Americans. This situation took 
care of matters for a few months. But Allied war purchases became 
so great that, by the autumn of 1914, there was a credit crisis. The 
National City Bank addressed Robert Lansing, then Counsellor of 

°^ Grey of Fallodon, Twenty-five Years, Vol. II, p. 127; and B. J. Hendrick, 
The Life and Letters of Walter Hines Page, Vol. Ill, p. 279. 

78 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

the State Department, on this matter on October 23, 1914. Short- 
term credits to European governments were advocated. Lansing 
talked the matter over with President Wilson at once, and the latter 
agreed that the government would not interfere with such an ar- 
rangement. This information was transmitted orally to Willard 
Straight of J. P. Morgan & Company at the Metropolitan Club in 
Washington on the same night. 

Shortly afterwards, H. P. Davison of the Morgan firm went to 
England and signed a contract to become the British purchasing 
agent in America. A similar contract was soon made with France. 

The short-term loans sufficed for some months, but by the summer 
of 1915 Allied buying had become so extensive that the bankers saw 
that they must float loans here for the Allied countries if the latter 
were to continue to buy American munitions on a large scale. So 
they made strong representations to Colonel House and to the Sec- 
retary of the Treasury, W. G. McAdoo. 

On August 21, 1915, McAdoo wrote a long letter to President 
Wilson, pointing out that great prosperity had come to the country 
as a result of the sale of munitions to the Allies, but that this pros- 
perity could not continue unless we financed it through open loans 
to the Allies — i.e. selling Allied bonds in our own financial markets. 

On September 6, 1915, Secretary Lansing argued similarly in a 
letter to President Wilson, stressing the crisis that faced American 
business if the earher ruHng of Bryan and the President on Ameri- 
can loans to belligerents was not rescinded. Colonel House sup- 
ported this position. McAdoo and Lansing won their point. On Sep- 
tember 8, 1915, Wilson assented to loans and the Morgan firm was 
once more given oral information. Very soon, the first public loan, 
the $500,000,000 Anglo-French loan, was floated. 

The formal loans to the Allies — over $2,500,000,000 in all — financed 
their purchases for a little over a year, but their buying was so heavy 
that even the great investment banking houses could not take care 
of their needs. By January, 1917, the Allies had overdrawn their 
credit by nearly $500,000,000. Only Uncle Sam could save the great 
banking houses and the AlHes. And Uncle Sam could help only if 
the United States were at war with Germany. We could not, as a 
government, lend money to a belligerent, unless we were at war with 
its enemy. 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 79 

Just at this time the Germans renewed their unrestricted sub- 
marine warfare. The United States could now be led into the war, 
and the bankers would be repaid. They were repaid to the last cent. 
When the war was over, Mr. Thomas W. Lamont, o£ J. P. Morgan 
and Company, stated the facts relative to the attitude of his firm 
toward the World War and the belligerent powers : 

At the request of certain of the foreign governments the firm of 
Messrs. J. P. Morgan and Company undertook to co-ordinate the 
requirements of the Allies, and then to bring about regularity and 
promptness in fulfilling these requirements. Those were the days 
when American citizens were being urged to remain neutral in 
action, in word, and even in thought. But our firm had never for 
one moment been neutral: we didn't know how to be. From the 
very start we did everything we could to contribute to the cause of 
the Allies. And this particular work had two effects: one in assisting 
the Allies in the production of goods and munitions in America 
necessary to the Allies' vigorous prosecution of the war; the other in 
helping to develop the great and profitable export trade that our 
country has had.^^ 

Most American industriaHsts naturally shared the attitude of the 
bankers. Since England controlled the seas, our sales were mainly to 
the Allied powers. We wished to see the AUies continue the war and 
win it. Upon their purchases depended most of our sales and pros- 
perity, and upon their success and solvency depended the prospect 
of their being able to pay us in the end. The trade in munitions 
carried us from a depression in 1914 to boom years in 1915 and 

By abandoning his neutral financial and industrial policy in favor 
of the Allies, President Wilson made it possible for the Entente 
Powers to enjoy an enormous advantage over the Central Powers in 
getting war supplies. The only way for the Central Powers to over- 
come it was to resume unlimited submarine warfare and try to sweep 
from the seas the ships that were carrying these supplies to the Allies. 

It was our unneutral financing of the Allies that led to the resump- 
tion of German submarine warfare, and it was the resumption of 

^' Manchester Guardian, January 27, 1920. 

°* There has been much dispute as to whether we were forced into war by 
the loans and sales to the Allies or by the resumption of German submarine 
warfare early in 191 7. In an important article in Science and Society (Spring, 
1939) on "Neutrality and Economic Pressures, 1914-1917" Professor Paul Bird- 
sail shows that the two were inseparably tied together. 

8o THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

this warfare which furnished the "incident" that enabled the war 
party in this country to put us into the conflict. It is, thus, perfectly 
clear that economic and financial pressure was the crucial factor 
which led us into war in 1917. 

But no one need hold that President Wilson was moved primarily 
by any tender sentiments for the bankers. Both McAdoo and Lansing 
argued that it was essential to American prosperity to finance the 

It was this general consideration of continued prosperity in 1915-16, 
and the relation of this to the prospects of the Democratic Party in 
the election of 1916, rather than any direct banker pressure on the 
White House, that bore in on Wilson's consciousness in the late 
summer of 19 15, when he let down the gates to financing the Allies. 

Yet, it is downright silly to contend that the bankers had no in- 
fluence on Wilson's policy. If he did not listen to the bankers himself, 
he did listen very attentively to those who did heed banker pressure, 
namely, McAdoo, Lansing and House. 

The active campaign for American preparedness and intervention 
was engineered by leaders of the war cult in the United States, such 
men as Theodore Roosevelt, Leonard Wood, Henry Cabot Lodge, 
"Gus" Gardiner, and the like. They led in the preparedness move- 
ment, the Plattsburg camp episode, and other steps designed to 
stimulate the martial spirit in America. The newspapers warmly 
supported this movement because of the circulation appeal which 
preparedness material supplied. 

While there were notable exceptions, the majority of our news- 
papers were pro-Ally and pro-interventionist. Many of them were 
honestly sympathetic with the Allies. Others were deeply influenced 
by Allied propaganda. Some were heavily subsidized by the Allies. 
Still others were bought outright by Allied interests. Moreover, the 
Allies supplied all American newspapers with a vast amount of war- 
news material always favorable to the Allied cause. The newspapers 
also had a natural affinity for the bankers and industrialists who 
were their chief advertising clients. Finally, the newspapers were not 
unaware of the enormous circulation gains and increased advertising 
revenue which would follow our entry into the World War. 

In the matter of propaganda the Allies had a notable advantage. 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 8i 

They controlled the seas, the cables, and other means of communica- 
tion. The Germans had only one crude and temporary wireless con- 
tact with the United States. Further, Allied propaganda was far 
better organized and more lavishly supported.^*^ It was also much 
more adroit than the German. As a result, a majority of Americans 
were led to believe in the veracity of the great batch of atrocity 
lies relative to the German invasion of Belgium, submarine warfare, 
and the like. This was particularly true after Lord Bryce put the 
force of his name and prestige behind the authenticity of such tales. 
Lord Northcliffe, who was in charge of British propaganda, in 
moments of unusual candor, stated that the Americans proved more 
gullible in such matters than any other people except the Chinese 
and called us "a bunch of sheep." 

The ministers of the gospel also joined heartily in the great cru- 
sade to put us into the World War. Lining up behind such a stalwart 
as Newell Dwight HiUis, they preached a veritable holy war. They 
represented the Allies as divinely-anointed promoters of interna- 
tional decency and justice and the Central Powers as the servants of 
evil and the agents of savagery. 

The net result of all this was that we entered the World War in 
April, 1917. We did so, even though there was no clear legal or 
moral basis for our so doing. If there ever was an instance in which 
the facts were clearly in accord with a neutrality policy it was in the 
spring of 1917. We should have fought both Germany and Britain 
or else neither. But the country went into war, with most of the 

^^ Editor's note: Compare Wickham Steed's statement in the article on propa- 
ganda in the Encyclopedia Brittanica (14th ed., Vol. 18, pp. 581-582): "Before 
1914 Germany alone among the great countries of the world carried it [propa- 
ganda] on systematically. While other countries and other Governments en- 
gaged, from time to time, in special propagandist campaigns for definite ob- 
jects, German propaganda was continuous and widespread. It was carried on 
chiefly by the Press Bureau of the German Foreign Office among the repre- 
sentatives of foreign newspapers resident in Berlin; by foreign press bureaux 
and telegraph agencies affiliated to the German press bureau and to the Ger- 
man official telegraph agency; by the staffs of German embassies and legations 
abroad, and by the head offices of foreign branches of German banks and 
shipping companies. . . . For some months after the war broke out German 
propaganda had the field to itself. The Allied Governments were unprepared 
to meet it." This does not, of course, invalidate Barnes' contention that the 
Allies, once they got started, conducted their propaganda in the United States 
more effectively than the Germans. The reader should note that Steed himself 
was a propagandist. W. W. 

82 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

citizens of the United States feeling that our self-respect and national 
honor demanded it. No other course seemed open to us. 

The Great Conflict: The Old and the New Warfare 

The World War actually began July 28, 1914, when Austria- 
Hungary sent Serbia an official declaration of war, and continued for 
over four years, being terminated with the signing of the Armistice 
by the Allies and Germany on November 11, 191 8. 

On July 30, 1914, mobilization of the Russian army was ordered, 
and on August i, upon Russia's refusal to demobilize, Germany de- 
clared war against Russia. Before the end of that month France, 
Belgium, England, Montenegro, and Japan had joined Russia in the 
conflict, and in October Turkey allied its forces with Germany. At 
the conclusion of 1914, the warring Central Powers included Ger- 
many, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey, and the Entente Allies were 
Russia, France, England, Japan, Belgium, Serbia, and Montenegro. 
Bulgaria's entrance in October, 1915, completed the ranks of the 
Central Powers. The years 1915-18 witnessed the increase of the Al- 
lied Powers by the entry of Italy (May, 1915), Portugal and Ru- 
mania (1916), the United States, Cuba, Panama, Greece, Siam, 
China, Liberia, and Brazil (1917), and Guatemala, Costa Rica, 
Nicaragua, Haiti, and Honduras (1918). 

Some ten years before the war, the German General Staff had 
drawn up the plan to be followed in the event of a general European 
war. It was to make a rapid drive through Belgium and envelop 
and capture the armies of France (and of England if the latter 
should enter the conflict) . Having disposed of the enemy in the west, 
all the German resources were then to be directed against Russia to 
oust it from the war. As the German Chief of Staff at the time was 
General Alfred von Schlieffen, this plan of campaign came to be 
known as the SchlieifiFen Plan. 

When war broke out in August, 1914, this Schlieffen plan was 
launched with clocklike precision. It worked perfectly, except for a 
bad blunder committed by General von Biilow in not attacking as 
ordered; and had it not been for the incompetence of the German 
Chief of Staff, General Helmuth von Moltke, the Germans would, 
in all probability, have won the war with a smashing victory before 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 83 

the end of September, 1914. But von Moltke, nephew of the great 
leader of the Prussian army in 1870, was never an able mihtary man. 
He had been chosen by the Kaiser chiefly for the legendary prestige 
of the family name. Moreover, in the summer of 1914 his health was 
so bad that he should have been in a hospital rather than in the head- 
quarters of the General Staff.^^ Hence he was unable personally to 
direct hostilities. 

At the height of the great German advance Moltke sent to the 
front with absolute authority an incompetent subordinate, Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Richard Hentsch, who in his confusion ordered a 
retreat at the very moment when the Germans might have entered 
Paris and at the same time have driven the British army back in dis- 
order. The French followed up this retreat by what is usually known 
as the First Battle of the Marne.^^ This loss of the war through an 
utterly incompetent commander-in-chief is the major responsibility 
that the Kaiser must bear for the German defeat in 1914-18. Von 
Moltke's successor, the boot-licking General Erich von Falkenhayn, 
was only a slight improvement. By the time Erich Ludendorff and 
Paul von Hindenburg were placed in supreme command in 1916 it 
was too late for Germany to win a smashing military victory. Once 
the Germans retired after the Hentsch blunder, both sides settled 
down in the west to a dreary and terrible trench warfare that lasted 
for approximately four years. 

The intrenched western front in 1914-15 stretched from Belfort 
northward to Verdun, westward to the Aisne River, and then north- 
ward again to Ypres and Nieuport, covering a distance of six hun- 
dred miles. Although the Germans had vanquished most of Belgium 
and northern France and controlled many of the French mines and 
industries, they were unable to make substantial farther advances 
and conquer all of France. 

°® Von Moltke's physical incapacity in 1914 was fully described to the writer 
by Admiral von Tirpitz. 

^^ The common conviction, repeated by most non-expert historians of the 
war, that the German advance in 1914 was brought to an abrupt halt by the 
French counter-attack is quite mistaken. In spite of von Biilow's blunder, the 
Germans could easily have taken Paris and paralyzed the English army if 
Colonel Hentsch had not advised retreat. Some of the German officers at the 
front threw their swords in the dust and others threatened to shoot Hentsch, 
but in the end they obeyed the order to retreat. 

84 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

The army protecting Germany's eastern front, although inferior 
in size to the Russian, was able, under the leadership of Generals 
von Hindenburg, Ludendorfl and von Hoffmann, to rout and par- 
tially to annihilate the Russian army in the battle of Tannenberg in 
August, 19 14. This was the most decisive defeat administered to any 
army during the war. 

At this time, Austria-Hungary attempted to invade Russian 
Poland but was decisively defeated, and lost, as a consequence, 
eastern Galicia, including Lemberg. However, the counter-offensive 
launched by the Germans in the spring of 1915 under General Au- 
gust von Mackensen drove the Russians from this region and 
returned practically all Galicia to Austria-Hungary. 

Hindenburg, supported by huge armies, attacked Russian Poland, 
captured Warsaw and Vilna, and by October, 1915, most of Poland, 
Lithuania, and Courland were in the possession of the Central Pow- 
ers. This offensive warfare, severely crippling the Russian forces, 
extended the German eastern front from Cernauti (Czernowitz) on 
the boundary of Rumania to Riga in the north. 

The reverses of Russia under the tsarist regime helped to bring on 
a revolution in the spring of 1917, in which the Tsar abdicated, to 
be succeeded first by Prince Lvov and then by Alexander Kerensky. 
Kerensky, as the head of the new Russian revolutionary government, 
attempted another invasion of Galicia in July, 1917, but this proved 
a dismal failure. When the Bolsheviks, under the leadership of 
Lenin and Trotsky, obtained control of Russia in November, 1917, 
they demobilized the Russian armies, signed the peace treaty of 
Brest-Litovsk with Germany in March, 1918, and withdrew from 
the war to continue the domestic revolution. 

The Bulgarians, joining the Central Powers in October, 1915, 
assisted the Germans in attacking Serbia and Montenegro. Within 
two months they had succeeded in conquering these countries and 
Albania, and most of the Balkan Peninsula was occupied by the 
Central Powers. The Entente effort at a brilliant coup in south- 
eastern Europe, namely, the attempt to force the Dardanelles and 
free the Russian man power and grain supply for the Entente, 
proved an expensive and dismal failure with the collapse of the gal- 
lant Gallipoli campaign early in 1916. 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 85 

Rumania, joining the Allies in August, 1916, invaded Transyl- 
vania in Hungary, but von Mackensen, seizing Bucharest, drove 
them from this region and, with the cooperation of von Falkenhayn, 
soon occupied the greater portion of the country as the result of one 
of the most rapid and brilliant campaigns of the war. 

The Italians, after their defeat at Caporetto in October, 1917, were 
pushed back into Italy as far as the Piave River, the Austrians taking 
about 200,000 men as prisoners and 2,000 pieces of artillery. Thanks, 
however, to military reorganization, enforced conscription, and 
British and French reinforcements, the Austro-Hungarians were 
halted. In June, 1918, they attempted to drive back the Italians 
stationed along the Piave, getting across the river at several points 
and even progressing five miles at one place. But the reinforced 
Italians, under the leadership of General Armando Diaz, recovered 
their unity and strength and, aided by floods, beat the enemy back 
and did not cease their offensive until November, 1918, when they 
invaded and occupied Trent and Trieste. 

The strain of the war was becoming intense by the end of 1917; 
people in many lands, but particularly in France, Russia, and Italy, 
expressed a desire for peace with Germany based on mutual con- 
cessions. The Germans, likewise, were disposed to welcome reason- 
able peace terms. The spread of an idea such as this implies the dis- 
integration of morale and of the desire for victory. Russia's case has 
been discussed above. The defeat the Italians sustained at Caporetto 
at the hands of the Austro-Hungarian army in 1917 was a shock to 
Italian morale. 

It seems highly probable that by the winter of 1915-16 Europe 
was headed towards a desirable negotiated peace. But the Entente 
was soon converted to a determination to continue the war to the 
bitter end as the result of the intimation which Colonel House, as 
President Wilson's agent in Europe, had given to Allied leaders 
that the United States would be likely to join the Entente if Wilson 
was re-elected. The new spirit was evident in the famous "knock- 
out victory" interview of Lloyd George, given out to Roy W. 
Howard of the United Press on September 29, 1916. Lloyd George 
declared that the war must go on until Germany was crushed. This 
is an important item in the verdict of history against Woodrow 

86 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

Wilson. Lloyd George was also doubtless influenced by the entry 
of Rumania into the war in August, 191 6, and by the British suc- 
cesses on the Somme. 

Another factor in postponing peace was the stupidity of German 
politics and diplomacy from 1916 to 1918. Ludendorfl and von 
Hindenburg were held back by the jealousy of the Kaiser and von 
Falkenhayn in 1914-15, when they might have won the war through 
bold and aggressive military campaigns. Then they were given 
supreme control of both military and political power after 1916 — 
the period when the war had to be won by Germany through 
clever diplomacy, if at all. Ludendorfl, von Hindenburg, and von 
Tirpitz were poorly endowed with pohtical acumen or diplomatic 
skill and finesse. They bungled matters, ordered the resumption of 
submarine warfare, and lost the war. 

During the winter of 1917-18, Ludendorfl and von Hindenburg 
made colossal preparations for a decisive German attack against 
the Allies in France before American soldiers could render decisive 
aid. Huge forces were placed on the western front; great guns of 
unprecedented range were installed for the purpose of firing upon 
Paris at a distance of seventy miles and thus shaking French 
morale; vast quantities of guns and ammunition were supplied to 
the soldiers; and everything possible was set in readiness for the 
great drive. The British were the first to feel the terrific impact of 
the German forces. The Germans attacked the British in March, 
1918, near St. Quentin in the valley of the Somme River, and 
marched on to Amiens. In April, the British west of Lille, and in 
May the French stationed along the Aisne River were the recipients 
of the German onslaught. At a tremendous cost of both life and 
property, the Germans had advanced to the Marne at Chateau- 
Thierry, some forty miles distant from Paris, Here the tempo of 
the drives slowed down, owing to the role played by the fresh 
American forces. 

After a month in which the opposing combatants faced each 
other, the Germans, in desperation, thrust forward in the Second 
Batde of the Marne. But by this time they were disheartened. Their 
reserves were exhausted, their ammunition was of an inferior grade, 
and the last great German offensive failed. The French, Bridsh, 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 87 

and Americans, led by Marshal Ferdinand Foch, shifted from the 
defensive to the offensive and forced a widespread German retreat, 
taking St. Mihiel, St. Quentin, Cambrai, Lille, the Argonne Forest, 
and Sedan, until finally, on November 11, 1918, the Armistice was 
signed in the Forest of Compiegne. 

Germany was exhausted by the titanic struggle against most of 
the powers of the world for four years. There was mutiny in the 
navy. The Socialists attacked the war policy and demanded peace. 
Revolution was threatened at home back of the Hnes. The Kaiser 
was forced to abdicate, the monarchy was ended, and a sociahstic 
republic was set up. 

But Germany was not the only nation which came near to 
collapse. There had been mutinies in the French army in 1917. But 
for the entry of the United States France might have cracked up 
and the Allies might have been forced to consent to a far more 
temperate negotiated peace. Russia, of course, collapsed completely 
and a new regime of society was created. 

In addition to the main battles fought on European soil, warfare 
was carried on in the Near Orient and in Africa. Soon after Japan's 
entry, the Japanese forces seized the German port of Kiaochow in 
China and, aided by the British, took the entire Shantung Penin- 
sula, Tsingtao, and the German island possessions in the Pacific 
Ocean north of the equator, while those in the south were captured 
by the AustraHans and New Zealanders. Important sections of the 
Turkish Empire were seized by British and French armies; Turk- 
ish Armenia was occupied by Russian troops in 1916. Palestine sur- 
rendered to the EngHsh in 1917 after a briUiant campaign by General 
E. H. Allenby, who a year later, aided by T. E. Lawrence and the 
Arabs, captured Syria, cut the Bagdad Railway, and forced Turkey 
out of the war. British and French armies took German Togoland 
in 1914 and Kamerun in 1916; the British troops stationed in South 
Africa crushed a Boer Rebellion in 1914 and took possession of 
German Southwest Africa in 1915 and of German East Africa in 

The World War of 1914 differed from other great wars in many 
respects. Never before had there been such an impressive agglomera- 

88 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

tion of men assembled to settle a human dispute. Whereas the 
figures of the armies ran into thousands in previous wars, they ran 
into millions in this catastrophic conflict. The military strength of 
the Central Powers has been estimated at 29,787,000 and that of the 
Entente Allies at 80,108,000. These figures include troops ready for 
action, reserve forces, unorganized troops, militias, national guards, 
and colonial armies. 

Fighting in the World War was a very complex matter and pre- 
sented a radical change from warfare in the past.^^ Because of the 
great technical advance in making machine guns and artillery 
efficiently deadly, almost at the beginning of the war open fighting, 
except for brief attacks, was abandoned, and long and elaborate 
series of trenches were constructed. These were formed in zigzag 
parallels, joined by laterals, and had subterranean rooms used for 
the storage of war supplies and for the resting quarters of the sol- 
diers. Some of these trench lines were most durably and securely 
built — notably the famous Hindenburg Line. Separating the oppos- 
ing trenches was "no man's land," a mass of barbed wire and arti- 
ficial banks of earth and stone that had to be traversed before 
reaching the enemy. These trenches were the parents of the Maginot 
and Siegfried Lines today between France and Germany. 

Artillery was developed with scientific acumen. The "barrage" — a 
terrific wall of co-ordinated artillery fire — was most ingeniously 
developed to lay down a protection for troops advancing behind it. 
Enormous numbers of machine guns, the most effective single in- 
strument of the war, were employed by both sides. Huge cannon 
were placed behind the trenches to destroy with ruthless force the 
enemy's towns, fortifications, and larger targets. Explosives, both 
grenades and mines, were added to the shrapnel and shot. Poison 
gas, a deadly innovation, was first used by the Germans, but shortly 
by the Allies as well. Camouflage — the art of concealment of vulner- 
able objects both at sea and on land — was a new and widespread 

Gasoline played a significant role in this conflict as fuel for tanks, 

^^ Cf. J. A. Hammerton, Universal History of the World, Amalgamated 
Press, 8 vols., 1927-29, Chaps. 178-80. 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 89 

automobiles, and airplanes. The tank, first used by the British and 
probably the most remarkable of the many new instruments of 
warfare improvised during the struggle, was a huge caterpillar 
afifair protected by an iron covering, crawling over the battlefield, 
unstopped by ditches, barbed wire, or mounds, spewing forth 
bullets, and bringing death and havoc in its path. 

The fighting in the air caught the interest of all peoples. One- 
man airplanes were used in the first year of the war as a means 
of discovering the position of the enemy and as a guide for the 
artillery. Later, two-seaters having an unprecedented swiftness were 
employed as bombing mediums, and for the use of photographers, 
spies, and scouts. Hydroplanes developed by the British assailed 
German submarines, and by 1916 squads and formations of air- 
planes were organized and the battles of the air were regarded as 
extraordinary feats of courage and valor. The emergence of air 
"aces," survivors of a succession of air duels, furnished much of the 
heroics of a war that was otherwise distinguished by a lack of 
romantic color. 

The sea operations during the World War were less decisive in 
the form of battles than they were in their bearing upon the control 
of the commerce of the world, so important for the Entente coun- 
tries, and only less so for the Central Powers. Great Britain's naval 
superiority never proved of more critical importance. German com- 
merce was swept from the sea, and very quickly also the German 
warships outside the North Sea were captured or sunk and their 
raids upon British commerce terminated. An air-tight blockade 
was imposed on Germany, which did more than British arms ulti- 
mately to bring that country to its knees. Admiral von Spec de- 
stroyed a small British squadron off the coast of Chile on November 
I, 1914, but his fleet was soon wiped out by the British in a battle off 
the Falkland Islands. 

There was only one major naval conflict during the war, the Battle 
of Jutland, on May 31, 1916. While the Germans were ultimately 
compelled to retreat before overwhelming odds to their fortified 
cover, they inflicted heavy losses upon the British. Not since the rise 
of her navy in the seventeenth century had Britain come oil so badly 

90 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

in a major naval battle. It is possible that Admiral Jellicoe might 
have repeated the feat o£ Nelson at Trafalgar had he been less timid 
or cautious, but he failed to rise to the opportunity. So the Germans 
had one brilliant exploit on the sea to their credit during the World 
War, but it proved only a futile show of superior bravery and 
strategy. The German fleet never again risked its fate. 

Rather, the Germans concentrated upon building submarines to 
offset their inferiority in respect to capital ships. These "U-boats" 
inflicted terrific losses upon British shipping, but in the end they 
undid those gains through bringing the United States into the war 
and turning the balance decidedly in favor of the Entente. It is true 
that Germany was able to justify its submarine warfare on the 
ground of the British blockade and that it offered to discuss dis- 
continuing submarine activities if Britain would raise the blockade. 
It is also true that Great Britain interfered with the rights of neutral 
shippers far more extensively than did Germany. But Germany's 
depredations involved lives as well as property. 

The Germans exerted themselves most vigorously in the effort to 
drive British shipping from the seas before the United States could 
become effective in the war. But America's industrial efficiency 
proved too much for them. Ships were rapidly and crudely built 
through the application, to the highest degree, of standardization in 
construction. The margin between new shipping and that sent to 
the bottom by submarines grew rapidly, and the destinies of Ger- 
many in the World War were doomed when sufficient American 
troops arrived in Europe to stem the tide of Ludendorff's last des- 
perate drive in the spring and early summer of 1918. 

Approximately 4,000,000 tons of Allied shipping were destroyed by 
German submarines in the first half of 1917. But owing to the entry 
of the United States, with its navy augmenting that of the British, 
the wreckage was diminished until in 1918 only 2,000,000 tons of 
shipping were sunk. The advice of Admiral von Tirpitz and others 
to disregard diplomacy in the interests of submarine warfare proved 
the second great German mistake. It lost the war in the last year of 
the conflict, as the Kaiser's unwisdom in maintaining von Moltke 
in charge of the German army at the outset had destroyed the possi- 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 91 

bility of a brilliant and decisive German victory before snowfall 
in 1914. 

Propaganda: A New Weapon of War 

As novel and interesting as the vast scope of the conflict, the huge 
numbers involved, and the colossal costs exacted was the wide use of 
systematic propaganda by both sides. This, if it did not prove that 
the pen is mightier than the sword, at least showed that the pen 
can powerfully supplement it. Germany gave the Allies a great 
propaganda talking point in its invasion of Belgium, even though 
we now know that the Allies had intended to do the same thing if 
this proved indispensable to their strategic program. A systematic 
campaign of exaggerations and falsifications regarding alleged Ger- 
man atrocities was planned and executed, and this helped mightily 
to turn neutral opinion against Germany, as well as enraging still 
further the populace of each enemy country. 

No sooner had the effect of the Belgian-atrocity campaign worn 
off than the Germans provided the Allies with another ace card by 
their submarine campaign, though this was less horrible in its results 
and no more illegal than the British blockade. But it lent itself 
better than the latter to dramatic and colorful exploitation in pro- 
Ally propaganda. Moreover, the Entente control of the seas made it 
easier for the Allies to get into contact with neutral sources of 
opinion. When the Germans did set up contacts with neutrals they 
were usually quite careless and stupid in their propaganda methods. 
An exception was Count Joachim von Bernstorff, the German am- 
bassador in Washington. 

As the propaganda plans reached a high development, systematic 
fabrications were deliberately planned and elaborate establishments 
were set up for the painting of fake scenes of devastation, falsifica- 
tion of postcards, manufacture of wax models of alleged mutilated 
figures, and the like.°^ A vast propaganda system was created by 
the Entente in the United States, engineered by Lord Northcliffe 
and directed by Sir Gilbert Parker. Ministers of the Gospel entered 

^^ See Ferdinand Avenarius, How the War Madness Was Engineered, Ber- 
lin, 1926; Behind the Scenes in French Journalism, by a French Chief Editor, 
Berlin, 1925; Sir Campbell Stuart, The Secrets of Crewe House, Doran, 1920; 
and H. C. Peterson, Propaganda for War, University of Oklahoma Press, 1939. 

92 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

enthusiastically into the fray and represented the war as a divinely- 
guided crusade against the representatives of the Devil.^° These ex- 
tensive fabrications not only served to promote enlistments, con- 
vert neutrals, and intensify passions during the war; they also made 
it difficult to secure a return to reason after the Armistice that would 
permit a statesmanlike peace settlement. 

The hatreds engendered by falsification and propaganda de- 
veloped a lust for vindicativeness in the post-war treaties. In Eng- 
land, a general election was held right after the Armistice. Lloyd 
George ran on the platform of making Germany pay for the war 
and hanging the Kaiser. All this made it impossible for Lloyd 
George to exert any moderating influence at the Peace Conference 
after he had personally calmed down and returned to reason. He 
was committed to bringing the Kaiser's scalp back with him from 
Paris. The propaganda during the first World War created mental 
states which were more potent than any other single factor in 
creating the chain of consequence that led from the World War of 
1914 to the War of 1939. 

Balance Sheet of the First World War 

The casualties of the World War were so astoundingly extensive 
as to be almost unbelievable. Kirby Page lists them in the table 


Known Seriously Otherwise Prisoners 

dead wounded wounded or missing 

Russia 2,762,064 1,000,000 3,950,000 2,500,000 

Germany 1,611,104 1,600,000 2,183,143 772,522 

France 1,427,800 700,000 2,344,000 453,500 

Austria-Hungary 911,000 850,000 2,150,000 443,000 

Great Britain 807,451 617,714 1,441,394 64,907 

Serbia 707^343 322,000 28,000 100,000 

Italy 507,160 500,000 462,196 1,359,000 

Turkey 436,924 107,772 300,000 103,731 

Rumania 339>ii7 200,000 116,000 

Belgium 267,000 40,000 100,000 10,000 

^° See Granville Hicks, 'The Parsons and the War," Ame7-ican Mercury, 
February, 1927; and Ray Abrams, The Preachers Present Arms, Round Table 
Press, 1933. 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 93 

United States 107,284 43,000 148,000 4j9I2 

Bulgaria 101,224 300,000 852,339 10,825 

Greece 15,000 10,000 30,000 45,000 

Portugal 4,000 5,000 12,000 200 

Japan 300 907 3 

Totals 9,998,771 6,295,512 14,002,039 5,983,600 

Page further details some o£ the more prominent of the human 
costs of the war: 

10,000,000 known dead soldiers 

3,000,000 presumed dead soldiers 

13,000,000 dead civilians 

20,000,000 wounded 

3,000,000 prisoners 

9,000,000 war orphans 

5,000,000 war widows 

10,000,000 refugees 

The total immediate economic cost of the war has been estimated 
by a careful student, Professor E. L. Bogart, at $331,600,000,000. Some 
of the specific economic losses have been computed as follows: (i) 
Munitions and machines of war during the four years of fighting, 
$180,000,000,000; (2) property losses on land, $29,960,000,000; (3) 
losses to shipping, $6,800,000,000; (4) production losses through 
diverted and non-economic production, $45,000,000,000. 

These are simply immediate economic losses — those things which 
were actually consumed during the conflict. No account is taken of 
subsequent costs such as interest on loans, retirement of loans, pen- 
sions, and the like. Writing shortly after the war was over, Professor 
E. L. Bogart commented as follows on the matter of immediate war 
costs : 

The figures ... are both incomprehensible and appalling, yet 
even these do not take into account the effect of the war on life, 
human vitality, economic well being, ethics, morality, or other 
phases of human relationships and activities which have been dis- 
organized and injured. It is evident from the present disturbances 
in Europe that the real costs cannot be measured by the direct money 
outlays of the belligerents in the five years of its duration, but that 

94 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

the very breakdown of modern economic life might be the price 

The editor of the Scholastic magazine made an ingenious effort to 
translate these figures of war costs into terms that we can visualize. 
He indicated that the cost of the World War of 1914 would have 
been sufficient to furnish: (i) every family in England, France, 
Belgium, Germany, Russia, the United States, Canada, and Australia 
with a $2,500 house on a $500 one-acre lot, with $1,000 worth of 
furniture; (2) a $5,000,000 library for every community of 200,000 
inhabitants in these countries; (3) a $10,000,000 university for every 
such community; (4) a fund that at 5 percent interest would yield 
enough to pay indefinitely $1,000 a year to an army of 125,000 
teachers and 125,000 nurses; and (5) still leave enough to buy every 
piece of property and all wealth in France and Belgium at a fair 
market price. Such was what it cost to return Alsace-Lorraine to 
France, to try to get the Straits for Russia, and to punish Serbian 

President Calvin Coolidge, relying on Secretary Mellon's estimates, 
once frankly stated that the ultimate cost to us of the participation of 
the United States in the World War would, in his opinion, be 
$100,000,000,000. Indeed, Professor Frank Dickinson has estimated 
that "the total post-war cost of the World War to our nation in terms 
of post-war price recessions and depressions probably exceeds $200,- 
000,000,000." On January 16, 1935, the direct cost of the World War, 
exclusive of $11,600,000,000 of war loans abroad, to the United States 
was officially declared to be $50,000,000,000. Another estimate, in 
1939, put the figure at $57,000,000,000. In 1916 our Federal budget 
was $735,000,000; in 1919, $18,500,000,000; and in 1938, $7,760,000,000. 

We have, however, received little gratitude from our erstwhile 
Allies for our huge expenditures of money and men in their behalf. 
We have obtained little but petulance, criticism and repudiation. 
Though we have written off half the debts incurred. Uncle Sam has 
been rechristened "Uncle Shylock." Our best friends abroad before 
1933 were our former enemies — and their disinterestedness was open 

^ E. L. Bogart, Direct and Indirect Costs of the Great World War, Oxford 
Press, 1919, p. 299. 
®^ Scholastic, November 10, 1934, p. 13. 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 95 

to grave doubt. A considerable share of their ostensible amiability 
certainly sprang from the hope that we might assist them in their 
current difficulties. Such are the unhappy results that we obtained 
from the dramatic international foray that put our present Treasury 
deficit far above our total national budget of the pre-war days. 

Among the outstanding announced aims of the Allies during the 
great conflict were the following: it was asserted that the World War 
would put an end to great armaments and the expenditures con- 
nected therewith. We had a promise that the military preponderance 
of any one great power or group of powers would be terminated. 
We were told that the war would bring to a close the secret diplo- 
macy and secret treaties which did so much to cause and prolong 
the war. 

Perhaps the most widely publicized of all the war ideals was the 
determination to make the world safe for democracy. Likewise, we 
were assured that arrogant nationalism would be curbed and an 
adequate world organization would be created. It was maintained 
that the economic causes of war would be resolutely attacked, Eco- 
nomic imperialism would be ended, colonialism discouraged, and 
tariff reductions brought about on a wide scale. Let us see how far 
these laudable objectives have been realized. 

In 1938, the world spent just about sixfold more for armaments 
than it spent in 1913, the last pre-war year. Further, there has been a 
very notable increase of armament expenditures in 1939 over 1938. 
These simply dwarf any such expenditures for a comparable period 
in the years before 1914. 

In the place of the fictitious German military preponderance of 
1914 we had for many years the very real and actually unprecedented 
military preponderance of France and her allies which, by 1926, 
amounted to a 40 to i advantage over the Central Powers. And now 
this has been answered by the even greater menace of German and 
Italian Fascism, armed to the teeth and committed to war. 

There is no evidence whatsoever that secret diplomacy has been 
ended or that secret treaties are no longer made. Some years ago 
William Randolph Hearst dug up a secret Franco-British naval 
treaty which strangely resembled the secret agreement of November, 
1912, which the French used to bring England into the war in 1914. 

96 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

The diplomacy connected with the Japanese occupation of Man- 
churia revealed secret European diplomacy of the most sinister 
variety. There is every reason to believe that secret diplomacy played 
a far larger part in the events leading up to the sacrifice of Czecho- 
slovakia than anything that was publicly revealed through the 
formal declarations and stage play of the participants of the Munich 

Far from making the world safe for democracy, the World War 
of 1914 succeeded in putting democracy in greater jeopardy than at 
any other time since the collapse of the Revolutions of 1848. 

In the place of the eighteen national states in Europe in 1914, 
we have had since 1918 some thirty national states, just as arrogant 
in their patriotism as those of the pre-war era. The League of 
Nations was, for more than a decade, nothing more than a league 
of victors. And since this Versailles policy has been challenged the 
League evaporated to little more than an impotent formality. The 
shocks administered by Japan, Italy, and the Spanish Civil War 
destroyed its vitality. 

Imperialism did not disappear. Only the German colonial empire 
was destroyed. Financial imperiaHsm started up again on a new 
and unprecedented scale right after the World War, ending up in 
tremendous defaults and disastrous losses to gullible investors. Mili- 
tant colonialism reasserted itself in Japan and Italy. More nations 
have come into being and most of them have erected even higher 
tariff walls. Even Great Britain has abandoned its pre-war free trade 
policy. Economic nationalism is better entrenched today than it 
was in 1914. 

It was generally believed in 1917 and thereafter that the interven- 
tion of the United States in the World War on the side of the Allies 
saved human civilization. It was lauded as one of the most noble 
and fortunate episodes in the history of man on the planet. Today, 
there is a great deal of skepticism about any such judgment. There 
is a tendency now to see in American intervention one of the major 
calamities in modern history — a calamity for the Allies and the 
United States as well as for the Central Powers. 

Let us assume the worst possible result of American neutrality in 
1917-18. If we had not gone into the war the worst imaginable result 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 97 

would have been a German victory. But no sane person can very 
well conceive that the world would be any worse off today if the 
Germans had won under the Hohenzollerns, 

We used to picture the horrors of a Germany and a Europe domi- 
nated by the Crown Prince and his followers. But, compared to 
Hitler, Mussolini and Company, the Crown Prince and his crowd 
now appear to be cultivated gentlemen, urbane democrats, and sin- 
cere pacifists. A more warlike world than the present could hardly 
have been created as a result of German victory, and certainly the 
economic situation in Europe since 191 8 would have been far better 
under a Europe dominated by monarchist Germany. 

But there is hardly a remote possibility that Germany would have 
won the war, even if the United States had not come in on the side 
of the Allies. Germany was eager to negotiate a fair peace arrange- 
ment at the time when Lloyd George's "knock-out victory" inter- 
view with Roy Howard put an end to all prospect of successful nego- 
tiations. We now know that the Lloyd George outburst was directly 
caused by his assurance that the United States was surely coming 
in on the side of the Allies. Had Wilson remained strictly neutral, 
there is little doubt that sincere peace negotiations would have been 
actively carried on by the summer of 1916. 

There is every reason to believe that the result of American neu- 
trality throughout the European conflict would have been the 
"peace without victory," which Woodrow Wilson described in his 
most statesmanUke pronouncement during the period of the World 
War. We would have had a negotiated peace treaty made by relative 
equals. This would not have been a perfect document but it would 
certainly have been far superior to the Treaty of Versailles. 

Had we remained resolutely neutral from the beginning, the nego- 
tiated peace would probably have saved the world from the last two 
terrible years of war. Whenever it came, it would have rendered 
unnecessary the brutal blockade of Germany for months after the 
World War, a blockade which starved to death hundreds of thou- 
sands of German women and children. This blockade was the one 
great authentic atrocity of the World War period. In all probability, 
the neutrality of the United States would also have made impossible 
the rise of Mussolini and Hitler — products of post-war disintegration 
— and the coming of a second world war. 

98 THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 

Not only was our entry into the World War a calamity of the 
first magnitude for Europe and contemporary civiUzation, it was 
also a serious disaster for the United States. 

During the first Wilson administration an impressive program 
of social reform had been introduced, widely known as "The New 
Freedom." Had this continued until March, 1921, enormous and 
permanent improvements might have been made in the political 
and economic system of the United States. But when Wilson allowed 
himself to be slowly but surely pushed into war, the New Freedom 
perished overnight. Reaction and intolerance settled down on the 
country. Some of those who had earlier warmly supported Wilson's 
domestic policies were thrown into prison, and many others were 
bitterly persecuted. 

The myth of a German menace and the crusading sanctity of the 
Allies was exploded by Wilson himself shordy before his death. On 
December 7, 1923, he told his friend James Kerney: "I should hke 
to see Germany clean up France, and I should like to see Jusserand 
and tell him so to his face."^^ 

Suggested Readings: 

Abrams, Ray, Preachers Present Arms, Round Table Press, 1933. 
Bakeless, John, The Economic Causes of Modern War, Viking Press, 
The Origin of the Next War, Viking Press, 1926. 
Barnes, Harry Elmer, The Genesis of the World War, Knopf, 1929. 

In Quest of Truth and Justice, National Historical Society, 1928. 

World Politics in Modern Civilization, Knopf, 1930. 

Beazley, C. Raymond, The Road to Ruin in Europe, i8go-igi4. Dent, 

Bogart, E. L., Direct and Indirect Costs of the Great World War, 2nd ed., 

Oxford University Press, 1920. 
Brandenburg, Erich, From Bismarc\ to the World War, Oxford Press, 

Chambers, Frank P., The War Behind the War, igi4-igi8, Harcourt, 

Brace, 1939. 
Clark, J. M., The Costs of the World War to the American People, Yale 

University Press, 1931. 
Cochran, M. H., Germany Not Guilty in igi4, Stratford Press, 1931. 

^^ James Kerney, The Political Education of Woodrow Wilson, Century, 
1925, p. 476. 

THE WORLD WAR OF 1914-1918 99 

Cooke, W. H., and Stickney, E. P., Readings in European International 

Relations Since i8yg, Harper, 1931. 
Dickinson, G. L., The International Anarchy, igo^-14, Century, 1926. 
Ebray, Alcide, A Frenchman Lool^s at Peace, Knopf, 1927. 
Fabre-Luce, Alfred, The Limitations of Victory, Knopf, 1926. 
Fay, S. B., The Origins of the World War, Macmillan, 1928. 
Gooch, G. P., Recent Revelations of European Diplomacy, Longmans, 

Grattan, C. H., Why We Fought, Vanguard, 1929. 

The Deadly Parallel, Stackpole, 1939. 

Hale, O. J., Germany and the Diplomatic Revolution, University of 

Pennsylvania Press, 193 1. 
Henkin, Ascher, Must We Have War? Humphries, 1934. 
Langer, W. L., European Alliances and Alignments, i8yi-i8go, Knopf, 

The Diplomacy of Imperialism, i8go-igo2, Knopf, 1935. 

Lansing, Robert, War Memoirs, Bobbs-Merrill, 1935. 

Lasswell, H. D., Propaganda Technique in the World War, Knopf, 1927. 
Lutz, Hermann, Lord Grey and the World War, Knopf, 1928. 
Michon, Georges, The Franco-Russian Alliance, i8gi-igiy, Macmillan, 

Millis, Walter, Road to War: America, igi^-igiy, Houghton MifBin, 

Mock, J. R., and Larson, Cedric, Words that Won the War, Princeton 

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Montgelas, Maximilian, The Case for the Central Powers, Knopf, 1925. 
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America at War, igiy-igi8, Houghton Mifflin, 1939. 

Peterson, H. C, Propaganda for War, University of Oklahoma Press, 


Ponsonby, Arthur, Falsehood in Wartime, Allen and Unwin, 1928. 

Porritt, Arthur, ed., The Causes of War, Macmillan, 1932. 

Renouvin, Pierre, The Immediate Origins of the War, Yale University 
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Schmitt, B. E., The Coming of the War, igi^, Scribner, 1930. 

Schuman, F. L., War and Diplomacy in the French Republic, McGraw- 
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Seymour, Charles, American Diplomacy, igi^-igiy, Yale University 
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Sontag, R. J., European Diplomatic History, i8yi-ig'^2. Century, 1933. 

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Walter Consuelo Langsam 

The World War o£ 1914, the costhest combat that humanity had 
ever engaged in, lasted 1565 days. The number of men killed 
in battle during this conflict was more than twice the number killed 
in all the wars participated in by European powers from 1790 
through 1913; and the estimated number of civilian deaths owing 
to the hostilities was even greater. In terms of money, insofar as one 
can determine the financial equivalent of such things, the war cost a 
total of $337,000,000,000, that is, more than five times as many dollars 
as the number of seconds that have elapsed since the birth of Christ! 
What the cost was in pain and misery and suffering, imposed by the 
struggle upon untold millions, one can only sadly surmise. In the 
circumstances it must be obvious how grave a responsibility rested 
upon the men who would determine the course of the Peace Con- 
ference that followed the war — a responsibility for so arranging 
matters that this vast expenditure of blood and money should not 
have been entirely in vain. 
Against the better judgment of President Woodrow Wilson, it 


was agreed to hold the forthcoming conference in Paris, where, 
forty-eight years previously, Germany had humbled France. Against 
the better judgment of judicious friends, on the other hand. Presi- 
dent Wilson embarked for Europe in December, 1918, to attend the 
proceedings in person. He probably went in the sincere belief that 
he could thus best exercise his influence on behalf of a just settle- 
ment, but from the points of view of practical poHtics and clever 
diplomacy the move was ill-advised. In close proximity to the 
wrangling and bickering and bargaining that characterized the 
Peace Conference, the American President evidently was unable to 
make felt all the influence that he had hoped to wield. There is 
reason to believe that he might have exerted more power for good, 
had he remained aloof from direct personal contacts with the Allied 

The chief British delegate to the conference was David Lloyd 
George, head of the Liberal Party and prime minister since 1916. 
Energetic, restless, alert, inconsistent, emotional, and clever, "little 
Davey" was a master at finding "the weak joints in an adversary's 
harness." He was overshadowed, if at all, only by his French col- 
league, Georges Clemenceau, the "Tiger." Clemenceau was an old 
man at the time of the conference. He had done newspaper work 
in the United States during the War between the States, and now, 
more than half a century later, he was a seasoned, disillusioned, and 
cynical diplomat. More than any other prominent delegate, he 
seemed to know exactly what he wanted and to march straight to- 
ward his goal : the exaltation and securing of France and the weak- 
ening of Germany. To these ends he bent all his great skill and 
abounding energy. The Italian delegates were led by a less force- 
ful man than either of these two. Premier Vittorio Orlando was a 
learned and eloquent statesman, but he knew no English, found 
it difficult to communicate with Wilson, and irritated the American 
President by his insistence on the fulfilment of the terms of the 
secret treaty under which Italy had agreed to join the Allies during 
the war. 

Each of these men, and every colleague from the other states rep- 
resented, was accompanied by additional delegates and by numerous 
experts, secretaries, journalists, and representatives of various busi- 


ness and patriotic interests. Even the smaller countries sent groups 
of from fifty to sixty persons, so that Paris was overrun by diplomats 
and would-be diplomats all through the winter of 1918-1919 and the 
following spring. Since so large and unwieldy a group obviously 
could not function efficiently, the conference held only six plenary 
sessions. Most of the actual decisions were made by the "Big Four" — 
Wilson, Lloyd George, Clemenceau, and Orlando — who held a total 
of one hundred and forty-five sessions. Matters of detail were han- 
dled by fifty-eight committees and commissions, each of which was 
designated to study and report on some special phase of the con- 
ference's work. These bodies held approximately sixteen hundred 
meetings. None of the defeated powers was allowed to send any 
delegates to the Peace Conference. These were merely to be called 
in later on — to receive for signature the completed documents. From 
this point of view, therefore, the Paris Peace Conference was not 
really a conference, for only one side took part in the dehberations.^ 

The number of difficult problems confronting the delegates was 
legion. The Paris assemblage had to draw up peace terms that 
would satisfy at least the most important of the twenty-three Allied 
countries. It had to agree, in response to President Wilson's pro- 
posals, on a league covenant that would be acceptable to forty or 
fifty not especially friendly nations. It had to feed the starving mil- 
lions in central and eastern Europe. There was the problem of con- 
trolling the restless victorious soldiers, most of whom presumably 
wanted to go home. Hysterical public opinions had to be quieted 
and it became necessary to strive for peace among the dozen or so 
nations that precipitated their own little wars almost immediately 
after the armistice of November 11, 1918, ended the hostilities of 
die World War. 

Simultaneously the delegates were deluged with demands and 

^ Inasmuch as the Allies did not at the time recognize the Bolshevik regime 
in Russia, this country also was excluded from die conference. The Russians 
had made peace with the Central Powers on March 3, 1918, through the sign- 
ing of the dictated Treaty of Brcst-Litovsk. Under the terms of this treaty 
Russia lost 500,000 square miles of territory and 66,000,000 people, most of 
whom were to come within a German sphere of influence. The Versailles 
Treaty required Germany to renounce the peace treaty with Russia, but the 
Bolsheviks did not regain all the lost territories. The Ukraine was eventually 
restored to Russian control, but Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithu- 
ania were set up as independent republics. 


petitions from all over the world — demands that ranged all the way 
from Corsican pleas for autonomy to Siamese requests for indemni- 
ties. And all the while the chief delegates were themselves generally 
at odds over what course to pursue. Most difficult of settlement 
among the representatives were the questions of publicity, of which 
languages to designate as official, of reconciling the secret treaties 
which the Allies had negotiated during the war with Wilson's ex- 
pressed war aims, of wording a covenant for a society of nations, 
of providing the French with the security for which they yearned, 
of meeting the extensive Italian and Polish claims, of disposing of 
Germany's colonies and the former non-Turkish possessions of the 
Ottoman Empire, and of fixing the amount of reparation for dam- 
ages to be exacted from the losers. In retrospect it seems miraculous, 
not so much that the treaty was bad, but that any treaty at all was 
drawn up by the mere humans who attended the conference. 

On May 7, 1919, the fourth anniversary of the sinking of the 
Lusitania, the terms of the German treaty were at last handed by 
Clemenceau to a delegation from the new Reich. The Germans 
were given three weeks in which to consider the provisions and sub- 
mit complaints in writing; no oral discussion was to be permitted. 
The announcement of the treaty terms in Germany caused, as was to 
be expected, a great popular outburst, and whereas the treaty itself 
covered about 230 large printed pages, the German reply occupied 
443 pages! A few changes thereupon were made, chiefly at the in- 
stance of Lloyd George, and then Germany was given a limited time 
in which to accept the treaty without further change, under threat 
of invasion. 

After bitter debating, the Weimar Assembly, elected by universal 
man- and womanhood suffrage in January, 1919, voted to sign, under 
protest. The AUies were notified of the decision at five o'clock on 
Monday evening, June 23 — two hours before the time Hmit was to 
have expired. At last, on June 28th, the fifth anniversary of the 
assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, the German treaty 
was formally signed by all parties at Versailles, a suburb of Paris. 
It now remained to draw up treaties for Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, 
and Turkey, tasks which were completed, much on the model of the 
Versailles Treaty, between September 10, 1919, and August 10, 


1920. Each of these treaties, too, was signed at and named after a 
Parisian suburb. Together the five documents are known as the 
Peace of Paris.^ 

Summary of the Versailles Treaty 

The Versailles Treaty reduced the European area of Germany by 
one-eighth and her population by one-tenth. It took from the Reich 
all her colonies and virtually all her foreign financial holdings. 
These foreign investments had been valued, in 1913, at $6,000,- 
000,000, a sum equal to about one-tenth of the Hohenzollern Em- 
pire's national wealth. Germany further had to surrender one-eighth 
of her livestock and, in the ceded areas, approximately one-tenth of 
her factory establishments and one-sixth of her arable land. The 
German merchant marine was cut down to fewer than 500,000 tons 
— one-eleventh of its pre-war size, while the Reich navy was limited 
to a few ships with a maximum personnel of 15,000. The army was 
restricted to 100,000 men, about one-sixth of its former peacetime 
strength, and Germany was forbidden to make, purchase, or own 
any tanks, armored cars, military or naval airplanes, poison gases, 
and submarines.^ 

In surrendering the designated territories in Europe, Germany 
also lost two-fifths of her former coal reserves, nearly two-thirds 
of the iron ore, approximately seven-tenths of the zinc, and more 
than half of the lead deposits. The new territorial aHgnments, 
moreover, "broke down the pre-war organization of industry and 
commerce, so that for a long time even the industrial plant which 
Germany retained was incapable of working at its former level of 
efficiency." And along with the colonies went present or potential 
supplies of rubber, phosphates, fibre, foodstuffs, and other raw 
materials. Finally, Germany was made to sign a blank reparation 
check. Small wonder that, in some circles, the treaty came to be 
known as a "Carthaginian Peace." 

The remaining peace treaties, except for the one with Turkey 

^ The treaty with Austria is called that of St. Germain; with Hungary, 
Trianon; with Bulgaria, Neuilly; and with Turkey, Sevres. This last was never 
ratified, being replaced, in 1923, by the Treaty of Lausanne. 

^ The full text of the Versailles Treaty was published as a United States 
Senate Document in 1919 and may be obtained from the Government Printing 
Office in Washington. 


which was replaced by a more moderate agreement in 1923, simi- 
larly weakened the other former enemies o£ the Allies and left each 
of them with a yearning to bring about a revision of the peace 
settlement at the earliest possible moment. It is probably no exag- 
geration to say that most peace treaties contain within themselves 
the germs of future wars; certainly this was true of the documents 
known collectively as the Peace of Paris. 

Nlaladjustments of the Peace Settlement: ^^War Guilf 

Prominent among the more troublesome heritages of the peace 
settlement was the stigma placed upon the defeated powers by the 
so-called "war-guilt clause." In the case of Germany, Article 231 of 
the Versailles Treaty required that state to accept "responsibility" 
for "causing all the loss and damage to which the Allied and Asso- 
ciated Governments and their nationals [were] subjected as a con- 
sequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of 
Germany and her allies." There was no trial and no adequate 
consideration of the basic factors that underlay the World War; it 
was merely a case of placing all blame upon Germany and then 
forcing her, under threat of invasion, to accept the full responsibility. 

The reaction in Germany consequently was one of indignation 
and anger, and the Germans also were quick to point out the dan- 
ger of allowing such a procedure — that of blithely loading all war 
guilt upon the loser — to remain as a precedent for future action in 
world affairs. Nor was it entirely a matter of pride and sentiment, 
for the Allies used the war-guilt charge as the legal basis for heavy 
reparation demands and stringent unilateral disarmament provi- 
sions. It was this connection which doubtless added, on the one 
hand, to the vigor of the German denunciations of Article 231, and 
on the other, to the determination shown by some of the former 
Allies in insisting on its retention in the treaty. The war-guilt 
clause obviously was rich grist to the propaganda mill of the 
National Socialist Party in Germany. 

The Keparation Question 

Although the Versailles Treaty expressly linked war guilt and 
reparation, it also recognized that Germany's resources were inade- 


quate to provide complete restitution for all damage done to the 
Allies as a consequence of the war. Germany therefore was required 
to make compensation only for "all damage done to the civilian 
population of the Allied and Associated Powers and to their prop- 
erty ... by land, by sea, and from the air, and in general all dam- 
age as defined in Annex I hereto." This annex then Hsted ten 
loss-and-damage categories, including military pensions and the 
allowances paid by the Allied Governments to the families of sol- 
diers. In addition, Germany was to reimburse Belgium, with inter- 
est at five percent, for all the sums which that kingdom had had 
to borrow abroad during the war years. 

A Reparation Commission was in due time appointed and given 
until May, 1921, to evaluate the amount of damage according to 
this formula and to outline a method of payment. Meanwhile Ger- 
many was to pay, on account, in gold or in kind, five billion dol- 
lars. At the end of April, 1921, the Reparation Commission an- 
nounced a total reparation bill of thirty-two billion dollars. This 
was the lowest figure yet to receive official Allied sanction, but it 
was more than three times as high as the figure recommended by 
AUied economic experts at the Peace Conference. When the Ger- 
mans were forced, under threat of further invasion, to accept this 
debt, there was inaugurated an international dispute whose history 
for years was filled with suspicion, recrimination, and hatred. 

Partly because of her serious internal economic situation, partly 
because no outside effort was made to help her international credit 
standing or trade, and partly because the heavy annuities which 
she had been ordered to pay did not even cover the interest on the 
reparation debt, the Weimar Republic requested a partial mora- 
torium on reparation payments in March, 1922. Soon thereafter 
this was converted into a plea for a total moratorium for two years. 
Thereupon, at the request of the French — who had been spending 
about fifteen times as much on reconstruction as Germany had 
been contributing — the Reparation Commission declared Germany 
to be in general default on her obligations. In January, 1923, accord- 
ingly, French and Belgian troops were sent to occupy the Ruhr 
district, the very heart of Germany's industrial Hfe. 

For more than eight months the Germans opposed a "passive 


resistance" to this forceful action, an action which the British, in- 
cidentally, had refused to support, on the ground that it was illegal. 
But then Berlin surrendered unconditionally. The capitulation was 
hastened by the circumstance that Germany had in the meantime 
been gripped by an inflation fever that did not run its course until 
the end of November, 1923. By that time the paper-note circulation 
in the Reich had reached the fantastic height of more than 400,000,- 
000,000,000,000,000 marks and the German Government had come 
to owe the Reichsbank alone about 190,000,000,000,000,000,000 
marks.^ A figure running into quintillions is hardly comprehen- 
sible, but it may be of some help, though not much, to quote from 
an explanatory computation made by Dr. Peter P. Reinhold, a 
former German finance minister. If one were to take 190 quintillion 
marks' worth of "old German thousand mark bills," he wrote, 
"and put one upon the other, pressing them tightly together, one 
would have a pillar of such inconceivable height, as to be twenty- 
five billion times the highest mountain on earth." Germany obvi- 
ously had to surrender — or face disintegration. 

Lest the Reich fall into dissolution, the Berlin authorities now 
resorted to some desperate fiscal measures whereby the nation might 
lift itself out of the mire "by the hair of the head, like Munchausen." 
Inflation was stopped by law, the budget was balanced on paper, 
thousands of civil employees were dismissed, and conditions became 
a little easier when the Experts' (Dawes) Plan went into effect in 
September, 1924. 

The experts on the Dawes Committee^ had approached their task 
as "business men anxious to obtain effective results," and the plan 
which they devised did temporarily ease the international situation. 
Yet the scheme soon betrayed weaknesses and in 1929 a new group 
of experts, the Young Committee,*' tried to find a "complete and 

* The equivalent of these 400 quintillion marks was only 60 million dollars. 
At the end of November, 1923, a quart of milk cost 250 billion marks, and was 
scarce at that price. 

^ The Experts' Committee of 1924, named after its American chairman, 
Charles G. Dawes, was composed of two representatives each from the United 
States, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Belgium. It carried on its investigations 
from January to April, 1924 in Berlin and Paris. 

® The Experts' Committee of 1929 was also named after its American chair- 
man, Owen D. Young. It labored for seventeen weeks from February to June 
1929, chiefly in Paris, and then handed in to the Reparation Commission a 
report of 45,000 words. 


final settlement of the reparation problem." The next year witnessed 
the ratification of the Young Plan and again there was a transient 
feeling of relief. But it presaged ill when both the German Nation- 
alists and Communists strenuously opposed the plan and when 
Hjalmar Schacht resigned the presidency of the Reichsbank in 
protest against what he regarded as the assumption of obligations 
that could never be fulfilled. When, in the German parliamentary 
elections of 1930, the extremists of both right and left together 
polled about seven million more votes than they had in 1928, many 
foreign investors became uneasy and began to withdraw their funds 
from Germany. And this happened at a time when Europe was 
just beginning to feel the general depression that was heralded by 
the stock-market crash in the United States in October, 1929. 

German efforts to reUeve the growing distress were directed for 
a time to the cementing of closer relations with Austria. Though 
the latter was herself in financial difficulties, there evidendy was a 
belief among the leaders in both states that the formation of a 
united economic front would be mutually advantageous. The op- 
position of France and her Central European allies to the consequent 
proposal for an Austro-German Customs Accord in 1931 was so 
great, however, that the project was dropped. The incident ended 
by further undermining confidence, and the depression became 
worse. President Herbert Hoover now proposed a one year's inter- 
governmental debt moratorium, until June 30, 1932, and after some 
bickering, his suggestion found general acceptance. This develop- 
ment was hailed with optimism in some quarters, but actually it 
served chiefly to advertise the financial exhaustion of central Europe 
and the increasing bitterness of Franco-German relations. 

At the Lausanne Economic Conference of June, 1932, the former 
Alhes again showed that they recognized the reparation problem 
as one of the main sources of the world's troubles by arranging, 
in effect, for a reduction of the remaining reparation debt to only 
$714,000,000. This Germany was ready to accept and pay off quickly 
through a bond issue, but in a separate "gentlemen's agreement" 
the former Allies made their offer contingent upon a parallel re- 
duction in their own war debts, that is, in their debts to the 
United States. This was resented by many Americans as an attempt 


to pass on responsibility for the world dilemma to the United States, 
and Washington made it clear that cancellation of war debts was 
out of the question no matter what other arrangements Europe 
might see fit to make. Technically, therefore, the Young Plan con- 
tinued in effect, and technically Germany would still seem to owe 
the former Allies a total, including interest charges, of about thirty 
billion dollars. Actually there have been almost no payments, either 
on reparation or war-debt accounts, since 1932. Up to that time 
Germany, according to Allied estimates, had paid in reparation 
about $5,500,000,000.^ 

The Arguments over Armaments 

The ill-will engendered by the reparation quarrel was made worse 
by the simultaneous disputes over the question of armaments. When 
the Allies imposed certain military, naval, and aerial restrictions on 
Germany, they stated that these limitations were not merely cal- 
culated to render it impossible for the Reich to renew its aggression, 
but that they were to be regarded as the "first steps" toward a gen- 
eral reduction of armaments throughout the world. The promotion 
of this condition was declared to be one of the first duties of the 
League of Nations, and the task of formulating plans for arma- 
ment reduction was specifically imposed upon the League Council 
by Article 8 of the Covenant.^ 

The initial move in the fulfilment of this obligation was taken 
by the League in February, 1921, when the First Assembly ap- 
pointed a Temporary Mixed Commission to draw up proposals for 
disarmament. Thenceforth several attempts were made ostensibly 

"^ The reparation burdens of Austria, Hungary, and Bulgaria were revised by 
a Paris Agreement on Eastern Reparations in April, 1930. The first two coun- 
tries were entirely relieved of payments until 1943 and obligated themselves 
to meet moderate annuities from then until 1966. Bulgaria was required to pay 
about 416,000,000 gold francs in thirty-six annual instalments. Turkey, by the 
terms of the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923, did not have to pay any reparation 

* The League of Nations Covenant forms Part I, Articles 1-26, of each of the 
peace treaties. The first Assembly was called by President Wilson and met at 
Geneva on November 15, 1920. The first Council meeting, also summoned by 
President Wilson, met at Paris on January 16, 1920. The Council has averaged 
more than five meetings per year. The maximum League membership was 
reached in 1934 with sixty adherents. Five years later the membership had 
fallen to forty-six. 


to achieve the desired end, but rarely did the powers reach agree- 
ment on any really vital point. The chief stumbling block appeared 
to be the circumstance that one group of powers, including Great 
Britain, believed that security would follow automatically upon 
the limitation of armaments, while another group, led by France, 
insisted upon a guaranteed security of its own definition before 
consenting to any limitation of weapons. 

One disarmament plan after another thus came to naught, so 
that, while Germany was still disarmed, her neighbors increased 
their armaments annually. Indeed, in 1928, when the Soviet dele- 
gate to the Preparatory Disarmament Commission urged complete 
and absolute disarmament, including the abolition of defense min- 
istries and arms factories, the president of the commission scolded 
him and requested the Bolshevik delegation to attend future meet- 
ings "in a constructive spirit and not with the idea of destroying 
the work . . . already done." On this occasion only Germany and 
Turkey supported the proposal of the U.S.S.R. and it was rapidly 
becoming evident that Berlin was growing impatient with the delay 
of the former Allies in fulfilling their Versailles commitment to 
regard Germany's disarmament as "the initiation of a general limi- 
tation of the armaments of all nations." And so it happened that, 
after an Allied admission on December 19, 1932, of the "principle" 
of German equality, the Hitler Government eventually proceeded 
to translate this principle into action. Germany, said the Berlin 
authorities, was determined to achieve equality in fact: if not in 
disarmament, then in rearmament. 

The Polish Question 

A further difficulty arising out of the peace settlement concerned 
the disposition of the so-called Polish Corridor and Danzig. By 
this transfer of territory the Reich was divided into two uncon- 
nected sections: Germany proper and East Prussia. The procedure 
was justified by the Allies on the ground that "the interests which 
Germans in East Prussia, who number less than two millions, have 
in estabHshing a land connection with Germany, are less vital than 
the interests of the whole Polish nation in securing direct access to 
the sea." To complete the PoUsh route to the sea, the city of 


Danzig, with its then almost wholly German population of three 
hundred thousand, was converted into a Free City and placed under 
the economic and diplomatic control of Poland and the administra- 
tive supervision of the League. 

This arrangement served not merely to give Poland access to the 
sea — that might as readily have been done by a corridor in eastern- 
most East Prussia, leading to the port of Memel — but it weakened 
Germany economically and militarily, made it less likely that Ger- 
many would exercise any considerable influence in the Baltic area, 
and fitted in with the French desire to find a strong eastern ally to 
take the place occupied by Russia in the pre-World War system 
of alliances. Obviously the region in question was a danger zone 
from the beginning. Though Germany and Poland signed an 
agreement in 1921 granting the former freedom of transit for 
passengers and freight through the Corridor to and from East 
Prussia, despite a German-Polish treaty of 1934 whereby the two 
countries agreed for ten years not to resort to war but to settle their 
disputes by direct negotiation, and notwithstanding the settlement, 
later in 1934, of an eight-year tariff war between the two states, it 
was fairly clear that the Germans, privately and officially, were at 
no point reconciled to the permament alienation of Danzig and 
the entire Corridor. It is interesting to note, in this connection, that 
Mr. H. G. Wells, in his The Shape of Things to Come, published 
in 1933, arranged to have the next European war break out over an 
incident in Danzig in 1940. He erred chiefly, it seems, in placing 
the outbreak a few months later than it actually occurred! 

The German Colonies 

The treaty provisions regarding the former German colonies 
further troubled post-Versailles European relations. Having con- 
quered the colonies during the war, the Allies sought to justify the 
retention thereof by statements regarding Germany's alleged mis- 
treatment and exploitation of millions of hapless natives. Germany 
alone of the imperial powers, it was indicated, despite considerable 
evidence to the contrary, was unfit to control backward areas. The 
return of the colonies thus became an important German issue, not 
alone for economic reasons — supposedly to provide raw materials 


and serve as industrial outlets — ^but as a matter of prestige and to free 
Germany from the written stigma of colonial maladministration. 
"We Germans owe it to ourselves and to our children," wrote Dr. 
Heinrich Schnee, a former and successful colonial governor, "we 
owe it to our position among the nations that these reflections upon 
our national honor be rebutted before the world." The Weimar 
Republic was not at all backward, in the years after 1919, in en- 
couraging the campaign for the return of the colonies, sponsored by 
numerous private groups. For a time after the advent of the Nazis 
to power in Germany there was a lull — but only a temporary lull — 
in BerUn's efforts to revive the colonial question. But soon enough 
the matter was again broached with characteristic Nazi vigor and 
Nazi directness. 

In recent years many persons in Great Britain and the United 
States have expressed the opinion that Adolf Hider, in his book Mein 
Kampf, indicated a dislike for colonies and severely criticized the 
colonial program of Hohenzollern Germany. And certainly it is 
possible to find, scattered throughout the many hundred pages of the 
volume, frequent and unflattering allusions to the colonial policy 
of the old German Empire. But therein lies the crux of the matter : 
it was the colonial policy, not the colonial aspirations, that Hitler 
criticized. He apparently believed that Germany's mistake was in 
starting on a colonial career too early, that Bismarck had not waited 
long enough. In view of the many recent Nazi references to the 
colonial question, it would appear that the really relevant quotation 
from Mein Kampf is the following one, from the first page of the 
book: "The German people possesses no moral right to colonial 
activity so long as it is not able to unite its own sons in a common 
state. Only when the boundaries of the Reich include even the last 
German . . . does there arise from the need of its own people the 
moral right to acquire foreign soil." 

Austro-Gertnan Union 

The treaties of Versailles and St. Germain also laid the basis for 
the disquieting problem of Austro-German union, or Anschluss. The 
new republican governments in both Germany and Austria favored 
a union of the linguistically related neighbors and both made pro- 


vision in their constitutions of 1919 for amalgamation. The AlHes, 
however, forbade the union, except with the (unanimous) consent 
of the League Council. Supposedly independent Austria, indeed, 
was forced to change its name from "German-Austrian Republic" 
to "Republic of Austria." Regardless of later conditions, there can 
be little doubt that sentiment in both Germany and Austria — for 
economic as well as sentimental reasons — was largely for union be- 
tween 1919 and the end of 1932, that is, from the end of the war to 
the appointment of Hitler as German Chancellor in January, 1933. 

It was extremely difficult for Austria to remain economically and 
pohtically healthy in her independent status. The war left the re- 
public with a population of a little more than six millions, of whom 
almost a third were concentrated in and about Vienna. The country 
resembled a head without a body and the rugged hinterland was 
incapable of feeding or supporting the industrial capital city. Unable 
to feed itself, Austria depended on manufactured exports to pro- 
vide the necessary cash balance for food imports, but the high tariffs 
of its neighbors offered little encouragement to foreign trade. In 
the end, Austria was kept alive by financial injections, first from 
the League, then from Italy. It became increasingly difficult for the 
impoverished state to stand alone, yet the powers withheld their 
consent to Anschluss. 

In 1931 economic necessity impelled the two German states to 
sign a protocol for a projected customs union, but this was so strongly 
opposed by France and her Central European allies that the matter 
was dropped even before the World Court, by a vote of eight to 
seven, rendered an adverse decision as to its legality. The ostensible 
reason for foreign opposition was the fear that a customs union would 
inevitably lead to political union; but Berlin and Vienna had ex- 
pressly welcomed the entrance of any other state or states into the 
proposed tariff union. At any rate, following the failure of this 
attempt at economic collaboration, conditions in both Germany and 
Austria became worse. The Allied violation of the principle of self- 
determination in the case of the Germans and Austrians definitely 
contributed to the unrest, fear, and ill will that characterized Europe 
in the post- Versailles period. 


Hungarian and Bulgarian Grievances 

Since the minor treaties all bore considerable resemblance to the 
Versailles model, the lesser defeated states claimed to be the victims 
of similar maladjustments; but they also had special complaints of 
their own. We have just examined Austria's precarious economic 
position and thwarted Anschluss ambitions before 1933. Hungary 
and Bulgaria had additional grievances that threatened Europe's 
peace of mind. 

Hungary's foreign policy after 1920 was shaped largely by the 
questions of a Habsburg restoration and boundary revision. Not all 
Hungarians were agreed as to the desirability of or immediate need 
for a Habsburg restoration, but there was Httle dissent from the 
campaign to reunite with the kingdom certain regions — inhabited, 
it was maintained, by three million Magyars — that had been 
awarded by the Treaty of Trianon to Rumania, Yugoslavia, and 
Czechoslovakia. The chief obstacle to the fulfilment of Hungary's 
revisionist hopes and to a return of the Habsburgs was the Little 
Entente, formed among the three states just enumerated. It was 
understandable that, in the circumstances, Hungary should gradu- 
ally have been drawn towards Italy, herself desirous of revising the 
peace settlement (especially with regard to Africa) and herself 
suspicious of the Little Entente because of the latter's close relation 
to France. Eventually the Magyar kingdom — ruled since 1920 by 
a regent — came under the influence of the so-called Rome-Berlin 
axis. Like Bulgaria, Hungary persistently refused to become a party 
to any international agreement aimed at upholding the territorial 
status quo in central Europe. 

Bulgaria wanted revision along two main lines: Macedonia and 
an outlet on the Aegean Sea. The Treaty of Neuilly stripped Bul- 
garia of most of her Macedonian holdings and allotted them to 
neighboring Greece and Yugoslavia. Thousands of Macedonians 
thereupon crossed the border back into Bulgaria, using the latter as 
a place of refuge from their new masters and as a base from which 
to agitate for the creation of an autonomous, or even an independ- 
ent, Macedonia. Resulting "border incidents" along the Yugoslav- 
Greco-Bulgarian frontier several times precipitated international 


crises. And whenever the Bulgarian Government was reproached 
for its toleration of the Macedonian poHtical activities, it replied by 
pointing out that the disarmament provisions of the peace treaty 
made it impossible for the authorities properly to deal with the 
revolutionists. Economically Bulgaria might conceivably have been 
better off in the early post-war years if the Allies had made any 
serious effort to carry out their treaty pledge to "insure the economic 
outlets of Bulgaria to the Aegean Sea." 

Possibilities of Treaty Revision 

Other maladjustments there were, too, whose listing our space 
does not permit. Suffice it to add that the defeated states felt jus- 
tified, on moral and legal grounds, in requesting alterations in the 
peace settlement. In 1929, Gustav Stresemann told the League Coun- 
cil: "Frankly, I do not think that we have in the present century 
estabhshed a condition of affairs which is eternal, and that idea is 
very clearly expressed in the Covenant of the League of Nations." 
His reference was to Article 19 of the Covenant, which reads : "The 
Assembly may from time to time advise the reconsideration by 
Members of the League of treaties which have become inapplicable 
and the consideration of international conditions whose continuance 
might endanger the peace of the world." This article owed its origin 
to the feeling among some leaders at the Peace Conference that the 
treaty might not be altogether just, and that means should there- 
fore be provided for possible revision at a time when calmer spirits 
could prevail. 

Possessing this legal opening for coping with the more serious 
maladjustments of the peace settlement, the great powers might 
well have endeavored to forestall some of the moral and material 
damages of the early post-Versailles years. The statesmen of the 
German Republic pleaded often that the League avail itself of the 
powers under Article 19 to reconsider the most troublesome treaty 
terms, but their pleas generally fell on deaf ears. Having gained 
their ends in 1919, the former Allies naturally wanted no change 
in the status quo. But the former enemies, and Italy — who also left 
the peace conference dissatisfied, were quite as eager for a change. 
To them the status quo was painful; it represented, in the words 


of an unknown colored philosopher, "the mess we's in!" And it 
was the inability of the German Republic before 1933 to bring about 
wider readjustments in the international status quo by moderate 
appeals that helped to bring the National Socialists, advocates of 
direct action, to power in the Reich. 

The Heritage of Versailles and the Rise of Na'^ism 

The World War and the peace settlement of 1919 left Germany 
disillusioned and crushed, both materially and spiritually. The Ger- 
mans, proud and warlike, would not easily forget the humiliation 
of defeat and the seeming injustices of what they called the "dic- 
tate of Versailles." The continuing unfriendly attitude and acts of 
victorious France; the ceaseless quarreling over the Ruhr, the 
Rhineland occupation, the Saar, and reparation; the fruitless wran- 
gling over security and disarmament; the steadily swelling arma- 
ment expenditures of Germany's neighbors; all these tended to feed 
the indignation and anger of many Germans. 

In such circumstances, the republican government's meek accept- 
ance of disabilities, its policy of reconciliation and treaty fulfilment, 
and its seeming inability or unwillingness to assert itself more 
strongly in international affairs rankled in the hearts of many 
nationalists, especially the younger war veterans and the youth 
which, rightly or wrongly, believed itself deprived of a secure and 
glorious future by the supposed "treachery" and "cowardice" of 
complacent republican politicians. During the period of temporary 
economic revival in Germany, from 1924 to 1929, these factors re- 
mained somewhat in the background. But they certainly existed, 
and it required only a few years of economic depression, of hard 
times and increasing unemployment, to bring them vividly to the 

Many Germans, moreover, declared themselves dissatisfied with 
the functioning of the democratic parliamentary system. This, in 
truth, had been virtually imposed upon the Reich by the Allies, 
who refused, through President Wilson, to make peace with a 
Hohenzollern Government. Those Germans who could remember 
the days when order and discipline had prevailed in the Reichstag, 
and perhaps even more of those who, being younger, had merely 


heard or read about such days, were impatient with the quibbhng 
and time-wasting that characterized the repubhcan lower house. It 
seemed to some German observers that, in place of decision and 
accompHshment, the poHticians offered words, empty promises, and 
glib prophecies of a brighter future. The whole situation was made 
more difficult by the system of proportional representation in 
national elections, which made possible the appearance of more 
than a score of parties in parliament and which evidently made 
impossible efficient government by any single like-minded majority. 
Increasingly many Germans began to express their conviction of 
the need for a "strong man," a leader, who, they hoped, would re- 
store Germany's prosperity at home and Germany's prestige abroad. 

Psychological factors, too, played an important part in the eventual 
overturn. For some reason, the Weimar Republic seemed peculiarly 
unable or unwilling to pay due attention to the "inner feelings" 
and desires of many of its nationalistic citizens. The official tolera- 
tion, and sometimes even encouragement, of attempts to drag down 
the ideals and heroes of imperial Germany; the readiness with 
which the former imperial flag was abandoned and the old and 
colorful military uniforms were given up; and the friendly rela- 
tions maintained with the Soviet Union; all these alienated the 
sympathies of prominent elements in the population, of aristocrats, 
young university people, conservative peasants, believers in Kultur 
and Germany's presumed world mission, and some of the rank- 
and-file war veterans who, for one reason or another, seemed to 
hate the parliamentary politicians. The Nazi leaders, on the other 
hand, understood these grievances and with their remarkable 
propaganda methods capitalized on them. Oratory, posters, ban- 
ners, songs, uniforms, ceremonies, ritual, sentiment, discipline, his- 
toric tradition, flattering theories of race superiority, anti-Semitism, 
enthusiasm, the dynamic personality of Hitler, these things attracted 
numerous Germans, particularly at a time when the only alterna- 
tives appeared to them to offer continued depression and continued 
foreign rebuffs. 

In their original program, drawn up as the "Twenty-five Points" 
by an engineer named Gottfried Feder, the Nazis "demanded" the 
abrogation of the Treaties of Versailles and St. Germain. This was 


essential for the achievement of their ultimate goal: the establish- 
ment of a Greater Germany wherein should be united in one so- 
called national comradeship all those of "German blood without 
reference to confession."® Hider elaborated on this program in his 
book, Mein Kampf, and he and the other Nazi leaders and orators 
rarely missed an opportunity to denounce the "war-guilt lie," to 
insist on the reacquisition of colonies, and to call for the end of 
reparation obligations. The domestic planks in the Nazi platform, 
moreover, were well worded to carry a many-sided appeal; and 
the catchwords of the movement were anti-Semitism, anti-Marxism, 
and and-Versailles-ism. 

The Pillars of Nazism 

One of the mainstays of the early Hitlerite movement was the 
white-collar section of the middle class. Many of the three-and-a- 
half million people in this category, when judged by income and 
standard of living, really fell into proletarian ranks. But, unlike 
so many workers, they preferred not to look to the Socialists or 
Communists for relief. Class pride and perhaps national spirit led 
them to seek aid elsewhere and Hitlerism evidently seemed to offer 
another way out. Equally badly off from an economic point of view, 
equally hesitant to acknowledge a common interest with laborers, 
and consequently equally prepared to try Nazi suggestions, were 
thousands of ex-army officers, soldiers' widows, and retired trades- 
men who still remembered with bitterness the period of inflation. 

There were also numerous other Nazi enthusiasts. The anti- 
Semitic stand of the National Socialists appealed to many profes- 
sionals who objected to the competition offered by Jewry in law, 
medicine, teaching, banking, and trade. Retail shopkeepers who be- 
lieved that the growth of trusts and chain stores was endangering 
their livelihood welcomed the Nazi promise of government protec- 
tion for small dealers. Support also came from the discouraged peas- 
ants, pardcularly in southern Germany. Millions of the farmers, large 
and small, were in debt and, since property holders could have little 

® This was then to be the Third Reich, as the Holy Roman Empire had been 
the first and the Hohenzollern Empire the second. 


sympathy with the Marxist attitude towards private possessions, they 
tended to rally around Nazi standards. 

University students and graduates added further strength to 
Nazism. There was a sixty percent increase in the number of univer- 
sity students in Germany between 1914 and 1930, but the number of 
professional openings failed to keep pace with this rise in employable 
candidates. Thousands of unemployed educated persons thus came 
to despair of any improvement in their lot under the existing political 
system. Any program of overturn seemed promising to such people 
and, since they frequently favored a strengthened national spirit, the 
revival of a large army, and the removal of the restrictive Versailles 
clauses, they turned to National Socialism. Finally, a number of 
industrialists, who apparently feared the progress of Communism 
more than that of Hitlerism, supported the Nazis. The latter, in 
official pronouncements, had given assurance that the proposed so- 
cialization of trusts was not aimed at such "real creators" of German 
heavy industry as the Krupps, the Thyssens, the Mannesmanns, and 
the Siemenses. 

Only scant support was given to Hitler, before he took over con- 
trol of the government, from the ranks of labor and the stronger 
Catholic districts. Less than fifteen percent of his following in 1932 
came from among the industrial proletariat, and even of this group 
a sizable proportion may well have been attracted as much by the 
promise of jobs through Nazi influence as by poHtical conviction. 

The great opportunity of the Nazis came on January 30, 1933, 
when President Paul von Hindenburg appointed their leader Ger- 
man Chancellor. Chancellor General Kurt von Schleicher had re- 
signed two days earlier, mainly because the president had refused to 
allow the dissolution of a hostile Reichstag; there already had been 
too many elections in recent years. But the Nazis, though they 
formed the largest single group in the lower house, were definitely 
in a minority, holding 196 of the 584 seats. Hitler therefore de- 
manded new elections, which were set for March 5, 1933. After an 
exciting campaign, during the course of which the Reichstag build- 
ing was nearly destroyed by a fire of apparently incendiary origin, 
more than 39,000,000 citizens cast their ballots. More than 17,000,000 
of them voted for National Socialist candidates and an additional 


3,000,000 supported the German National People's Party, which had 
formed a coalition with the Nazis. The Nazi-Nationalist coalition 
received approximately fifty-two percent of the popular vote and 
hence a majority in the Reichstag.-^" 

On March 23, 1933, the new Reichstag, with more than 100 of the 
deputies absent, generally involuntarily, by a vote of 441 to 94, passed 
the Law to Combat the Misery of People and Reich. The five articles 
of this act in effect suspended the Constitution of 1919 and endowed 
the Hitler Government with dictatorial powers for four years. Within 
the next eighteen months the Nazis so effectively entrenched them- 
selves in power that Hider prophesied, in the late summer of 1934: 
"In the next thousand years no more revolutions will take place in 

Post-War Diplomacy: Kepublican Germany 

Having now outlined certain maladjustments of the Paris peace 
settlement and considered, in brief, some of the factors underlying 
the rise to power of the Nazis in Germany, we may complete this 
survey with a glance at European international relations since the 
close of the World War. Let us begin, for the sake of continuity, 
with the diplomacy of the Weimar Republic. 

The chief aim of German diplomacy from 1919 to 1932 was to 
regain for the republic admission into the family of nations as a 
member in good standing. The achievement of this goal was an 
urgent matter, both as a protective measure for the disarmed and 
war-weary population and as a means of reviving the trade and com- 
merce upon which German economic recovery largely depended. 
German opinion from the beginning, however, was divided on the 
question of whether the new orientation should look eastward or 

■^° In this election the Social Democrats polled about 7,000,000 votes, the two 
Catholic parties (Center and Bavarian People's), 5,500,000, and the Communist 
Party about 4,750,000. The Hitlerites blamed the Communist Party for the 
Reichstag fire, while the Communists accused the Nazis of having plotted the 
deed as a means of discrediting Communism in the eyes of the voters. In 
December, 1933, the German Supreme Court convicted Marinus van der Lubbe, 
a young Netherlands Communist, of having set the fire. The youth appeared 
to be in a stupor during most of the trial but he steadfastly maintained that 
he had committed the crime without accomplices. He was executed in January, 
1934. One of the best accounts of the incident is by a correspondent of the 
London Times: D. Reed, The Burning of the Reichstag, 1934. 


westward, toward Soviet Russia or the Allies. Those statesmen who 
preferred to look eastward advocated an alliance with the Bolsheviks 
and eventual repudiation of the oppressive treaty restrictions. Their 
opponents spoke for the prompt fulfilment of the treaty obhgations, 
onerous though these might be, and full reconciliation with the erst- 
while enemies. 

At first it looked as though the pro-Soviet point of view might 
triumph. In the spring of 1922 the chief German and Russian dele- 
gates to the Genoa Economic Conference concluded and signed, at 
near-by Rapallo, a recognition pact and trade treaty. The two powers 
felt drawn together because both were still regarded as international 
outcasts, both were fearful of the possible designs of an Anglo- 
Franco-Polish coalition, and both were in need of new and immedi- 
ate trade contacts. The treaty of 1922 was, fundamentally, only a 
trade agreement, but the sudden announcement of its secret negotia- 
tion at a time when the representatives of thirty-four nations were 
gathered to discuss ways and means for improving the general Euro- 
pean economic situation greatly irritated the remaining delegations. 
The Genoa conference therefore broke up without settling any of the 
major issues which it had been called to consider. 

Four years later, in April, 1926, the Soviet and German authorities 
signed another treaty. This document provided for mutual neutral- 
ity in the event of attack without provocation. Each signatory, more- 
over, agreed not to participate in any financial or economic boycott 
that might be organized against the other. It is worthy of note that 
this treaty of friendship and neutrality was never specifically re- 
nounced by either party, not even after the Nazis established their 
Third Reich. 

Meanwhile, under the skilful and energetic leadership of Dr. 
Gustav Stresemann, there had come into power in Germany a group 
which advocated friendlier relations with Great Britain and France. 
Stresemann led the German People's Party, the party of big 
business, and though he actually favored a return to a monarchical 
form of government, he was ready to support the democratic repub- 
Hc in the interests of peace, internal unity, and economic revival. It 
was mainly through his efforts that Germany in 1924 accepted the 
Dawes Plan, in 1925 signed the Locarno Pact guaranteeing the status 


quo in the Rhineland area, in 1926 became a member of the League 
of Nations, in 1928 renounced war as an instrument of national 
poHcy by signing the Paris or Kellogg-Briand Pact, and in 1929 
agreed to the Young Plan. In this last year, too, Stresemann died, 
and though his immediate successors tried to continue on the path 
of his policies, they met only disappointment and failure. 

The conduct of foreign relations now became increasingly difficult 
in Germany, mainly because of the hampering activities of both na- 
tionalistic and communistic groups and the unswerving diplomatic 
intransigence of France and her satellites in central Europe. The 
friends of fulfilment and conciliation had to admit, in 1932, that after 
years of requesting and years of pleading, they had not yet suc- 
ceeded in winning from the former Allies a recognition, even in 
principle, of the complete equaUty of Germany with the other great 
powers. As a measure of last resort, the republican government in 
Berlin finally gave warning, in September, 1932, that Germany would 
abstain from any further participation in the Geneva Disarmament 
Conference until the right of the Germans to absolute equality 
among the nations should have been admitted. 

The threat was taken seriously, where earlier requests had been 
disregarded, and in December, 1932, the powers assembled at Geneva 
gave the pledge that "one of the principles that should guide the 
Conference on Disarmament should be the grant to Germany and to 
the other disarmed powers of equality of rights in a system which 
would provide security for all nations." Germany now agreed to co- 
operate once more and in February, 1933, the conference resumed its 
work. In the meantime, however, Adolf Hitler had become the Ger- 
man Chancellor. 

NaTj' Diplomacy 

The Hider Government inherited from its predecessors the foreign 
problems of Germany's eastern frontiers (which had not been finally 
settled at Locarno), union with Austria, reacquisition of colonies, 
repudiation of war guilt, practical equality with the other great 
powers in armaments, and further revision of the reparation schedule. 
And since the Hitlerites had acquired their following at least partly 
because the previous administrations had failed to solve these prob- 


lems, it was to be expected that vigor, to say the least, would be the 
new order of the day in foreign relations. Inasmuch as the Nazis had 
referred to the relatively moderate policies of the Weimar RepubUc 
as compounded of cowardice and treachery, they themselves were 
bound to let actions speak, if words failed. 

By the end of 1933 the Nazis, having laid the basis for the thor- 
ough co-ordination according to their own principles of all domestic 
life, were ready to turn to foreign affairs with equal energy. In this 
field they developed a technique which aroused the ire of some and 
the envy of other foreign observers. The method was one of taking 
sudden action during a temporary lull in international watchfulness, 
announcing a fait accompli, and holding a plebiscite wherein the 
people were asked to endorse the completed act of the government. 
Generally the plebiscite question was worded so that no patriot, what- 
ever his political convictions, would be willing to vote "no." The 
attention of the world was then called to witness the solidarity with 
which the German people presumably were backing their govern- 
ment. Beginning in 1936 an improvement in technique was made 
possible through the co-operation of Italy, who now began to alternate 
with Germany in the performance of acts which were calculated to 
alter the status quo in a direction more acceptable to the totalitarian 
states. And, as success appeared to follow success, both powers be- 
came bolder in their demands. But here again it is noteworthy that, 
except for signing the anti-Comintern Pact, which in no way affected 
the safety of the Soviet Union, Germany and Italy did little to irri- 
tate, let alone endanger, the U.S.S.R. 

The French Search for Security 

While the Germans still vacillated between eastward and west- 
ward orientations, France, the Soviet Union, and Italy were all 
building up security systems of their own. Immediately after the 
World War it seemed to many Frenchmen that, as long as Germany 
retained a shadow of her former might, the Third Republic must 
seek written guarantees of protection. Disappointed in her efforts to 
get such guarantees from Great Britain and the United States, France 
in 1920 turned to Belgium. In that year the two countries signed an 


alliance whose terms were secret but which presumably provided for 
mutual support in case of attack by Germany. The treaty remained 
valid until 1936, when the Belgians, in effect, repudiated it. 

Next, France sought a substitute to take the place held by Russia 
in the old alliance system. The logical candidate was Poland who, 
like France, feared both Germany and the Bolsheviks. An alliance 
was concluded between the two states in 1922 and renewed for an 
additional ten years in 1932. Then, between 1924 and 1927, France 
negotiated pacts of varying strength with Czechoslovakia, Rumania, 
and Yugoslavia. Thus, within nine years after the Armistice, France 
had built up a new armed camp of the very type that had proved so 
futile and so dangerous in 1914. And this time France was bound by 
her treaties to defend five proteges, not one of which was a first-class 
power and each of which had numerous enemies. 

Partly because she realized the danger of this situation, partly to 
gain access to the Russian oil resources, and partly because of the 
rising tide of Nazism across her eastern border, France, in 1931, 
shifted her position with respect to Moscow. The latter was in a re- 
ceptive mood, for it, too, was disturbed over the election gains 
registered by the Communist-baiting Nazis. After due preliminaries, 
therefore, a Franco-Soviet alliance was signed in 1935 and ratified in 
1936. It promised that the signatories, for five years, would come to 
each other's immediate aid in case of unprovoked aggression. 

Soviet Treaties 

Meanwhile, in 1931, the Soviet Union had also signed a non- 
aggression pact with Poland. This treaty was prolonged for eleven 
years in 1934, a few months after Poland had signed a ten-year non- 
aggression pact with Nazi Germany. The Soviet-Polish agreement 
fitted in well with Moscow's program, dating from 1925, of negotiat- 
ing non-aggression treaties with all its immediate neighbors. By 1933 
the Soviet Union had similar pacts with Afghanistan, Czecho- 
slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Persia (Iran), Rumania, Turkey, 
and Yugoslavia. Thereafter, feehng safer in Europe, the Bolsheviks 
were able to devote more attention to Japan's adventure on the 
Asiatic mainland. 


Italian Precautions 

Italy, too, was taking precautions during these busy years, for Italy 
had great ambitions and Italy therefore needed friends. In the early 
years of Fascist ascendancy it seemed to many Italians that France 
was especially friendly to emigres who had left Italy through dis- 
like for, or fear of. Fascism. The Fascists, moreover, placed chief 
blame on France for what they regarded as Italy's shabby treatment 
at the Paris Peace Conference.^^ The two countries also competed for 
control of the western Mediterranean and for superiority in naval 
armaments. The French position, generally speaking, was that the 
Third Republic must have a Mediterranean fleet as large as Italy's, 
plus an Atlantic fleet. The Itahans maintained that their fleet must 
be as large as the entire French fleet. And each side tried to break 
the stalemate by out-arming the other. Finally, there was an ex- 
pressed feeling in some Italian circles that Tunisia, Corsica, Savoy, 
and Nice, all in the possession of France, belonged of right to Italy. 

Because of her grievances against France and spurred on by her 
general ambitions, Italy after 1928 gradually drew closer to her 
former enemies, eventually endorsing their demands for a revision of 
the peace settlement. Soon Italy came to be regarded as the leader 
of a "revisionist bloc" which included Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, 
and Turkey, and which was sympathetic to the claims of Germany. 
The rise to power of Hitler made it appear for a time that the ques- 
tion of Anschluss might estrange Rome from Berlin, but there were 
enough congruent elements in the Nazi and Fascist patterns so that 
even the unexpected liquidation of the Austrian problem in March, 
1938, had relatively little outward effect on Italo-German relations. 
Thereafter, indeed, Italy appeared content to concede first place 

^^ As a consequence of the World War of 1914, Italy acquired from Austria 
the South Tyrol, Trentino, Trieste, Istria, and some islands off Dalmatia. The 
area of these cessions was about 8,900 square miles and the population 
1,600,000 — of whom 250,000 were Tyrolese Germans and 300,000 were Yugo- 
slavs (South Slavs). Italy also wanted Fiume and Albania on the eastern shore 
of the Adriatic Sea, but the Peace Conference gave the one to Yugoslavia and 
maintained the other in its independence. Mussolini then annexed Fiume by 
treaty in 1924 and Albania by invasion in 1939. The Near Eastern territorial 
bait held out to Italy by Great Britain and France in 1915 either went to 
Greece or was kept by Turkey. In Africa, Italy was put off with small addi- 
tions to Libya and Somaliland, while Great Britain and France got most of 
the former German African colonies as mandates. 


among the revisionists to the stronger Third Reich, and to follow 
where once she had led. 

By this time, too, Mussolini had clearly formulated the conflict of 
ideologies which separated the major totaUtarian states from the 
chief democracies. "The struggle between the two worlds," he said, 
"can permit no compromise. Either we or they!" Basically, the dis- 
tinction between the totalitarian and democratic ideologies appeared 
to lie in their differing conceptions of the position of the individual 
in the state. Under the democratic conception, as it seemed to be 
generally understood among those who upheld the current forms of 
political organization in the "western democracies," the individual 
was regarded at once as the creator and the rightful beneficiary of 
all state activity and might be interfered with only when his doings 
reacted to the harm of his fellow-individuals. The totalitarian con- 
ception — in the Soviet Union as much as in Nazi Germany and Fas- 
cist Italy — was definitely anti-individualistic. The latter, to quote 
Mussolini again, "stressed the importance of the state and accepted 
the individual only insofar as his interests coincided with those of 
the state." 

The Attitude of Post-War Great Britain 

It remains to survey the attitude of post- World War Great Britain 
in relation to these events. The British Government and people after 
1919 evidently believed that there would be no future need for heavy 
land armaments. Assured, through the negotiation of naval-limita- 
tion agreements, that only the United States might have a fleet com- 
parable to her own, and thus reassured of the security of her coast 
lines and trade lanes, Great Britain was content to use her funds for 
other than arms enterprises and benevolently to observe the estab- 
lishment of a French continental hegemony reinforced by presuma- 
bly impregnable defenses against the unUkely possibiHty of a German 

As a further safeguard of British peace, London officialdom, 
throughout the post-war period, with few exceptions, consistently 
refused to accept the responsibility of world-wide commitments to 
guarantee law observance and territorial integrity. The advent of the 
National SociaHst Government in Germany, however, combined 


with such occurrences as the increasing unrest in central Europe, the 
approaching Mediterranean crises, the Far Eastern imbrogho, and 
the confusion and turmoil which characterized the domestic life of 
France especially after 1932, eventually led the British Government 
to take stock of the situation and to make a new estimate of Britan- 
nia's security. And even then several years were allowed to slip by 
before a record-breaking arms appropriation was voted in February, 
1937 — years in which international law was flouted in Spain, a Nazi 
delegate from Danzig thumbed his nose at the League Council, 
Germany repudiated the Locarno Pact and remilitarized the Rhine- 
land, and Hitler denounced the international control set up over 
German rivers by the Versailles Treaty. 

The IS/iunkh Agreement 

The absorption of Austria into the Reich in March, 1938, placed 
Germany in an excellent strategic position to take the next step in 
its program of uniting with the fatherland those Germans who had 
been excluded from its borders by the peace settlement of 1919. 
Great Germany now reached around Czechoslovakia like a huge 
pincers — a condition all the more significant since there lived within 
Czechoslovakia, all along the extensive Reich frontier, more than 
three million Germans, known from their location in the Sudetes 
Mountains as Sudetendeutsche. 

A provisional assembly which on November 14, 1918, had unani- 
mously proclaimed a Czechoslovak Republic, had represented only 
the Czechs and Slovaks in the former Austrian lands of Bohemia, 
Moravia, Silesia, Slovakia, and Ruthenia. The several minorities 
there had abstained from voting, the Germans in the expectation 
that they would be permitted to join either Austria or Germany. 
Hence there was bloodshed when Czech troops were sent to occupy 
the German-dominated areas in Bohemia and Moravia. President 
Masaryk, however, promised equality of treatment to Germans and 
Czechs and the disturbances temporarily ceased. But thus was born 
one of the most troublesome minority problems in post-World War 

Prior to 1918 the Germans in Bohemia and Moravia had, on the 


whole, comprised the upper classes. They were therefore generally 
disliked by the newly-liberated Czechs, who looked upon them as 
former oppressors, and they therefore also bitterly resented the turn 
of fate which had converted them into the less favored element in 
the population. At first the Germans boycotted all elections and in- 
geniously placed obstacles in the way of the administration, but as 
time went on, increasingly many of them seemed to feel that more 
might be gained by active participation in the political life of the 
state. In 1926 two Germans were appointed to the national cabinet 
and in the following year three-quarters of the Germans in the 
assembly voted for the re-election of President Masaryk. Naturally 
there remained irreconcilables among both Germans and Czechs 
and hardly a month passed in the ensuing years without some un- 
pleasant incident to remind the government of its German minority 

The triumph of Hitlerism in Germany further complicated the 
situation, particularly since it paralleled the appearance of the great 
depression in Czechoslovakia. Nazi propaganda became active at 
once, but it was closely watched by the Prague authorities. In 1933 
the Czechoslovak Government dissolved the German National and 
National German Socialist Labor parties, but these were quickly 
revived as the Sudetendeutsche Partei, headed by Konrad Henlein, 
the. "Czechoslovak Hitler." And this group polled more votes than 
any other party in the parliamentary elections of May, 1935. The 
cabinet appointed after these elections was necessarily a coalition 
government, representing eight of the fourteen parties returned to 
parhament. The status of the large German minority was therefore 
the most serious concern of the Prague leaders from the spring of 
1935 onward. Germany, meanwhile, making capital of the economic 
distress in the Sudetes region, conducted a vigorous diplomatic and 
press campaign against its neighbor to the south. 

The Czechoslovaks were accused of mistreating their German 
subjects and of depriving them, in violation of the guarantees em- 
bodied in a minorities treaty of September 1919, of economic and 
cultural opportunities. Prague was also charged with being in league 
with the Soviet Union to spread the doctrines of the Comintern. 


The Czechoslovak authorities strenuously denied all these charges 
and explained that any strong restrictive measures were made nec- 
essary by the subversive activities of the Henleinists. The situation 
grew steadily worse, and the demands of the Sudetendeutsche Partei 
became more insistent as Hitler's foreign policy was apparently 
crowned with success elsewhere. Whereas the Henleinists in the 
municipal elections of 1935 had polled only 67 percent of the vote in 
the German districts, they now (May-June, 1938) captured 90 
percent thereof. The gain was owing to a number of circumstances, 
not least among which was the recent German absorption of Austria. 

Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of Great Britain had made it 
plain as early as March 24, 1938, that he would not commit the 
British to the support of France in the event of a war growing out 
of German action against Czechoslovakia. Thereafter it evidently 
was only a matter of time as to when such German action would 
occur. The crisis became steadily more acute during the summer of 
1938, as the Czechoslovaks gradually agreed to certain concessions 
but refused to yield to the demand for autonomy. By September 15, 
Henlein issued the first public statement for outright cession of the 
Sudetes areas to Germany. Meanwhile the Prague Government had 
been made to realize that it could not count on help from any great 
power in its effort to retain the boundaries fixed by the peace settle- 
ment. The Soviet Union would live up to its alHance obligations 
only on the conditions that France did so first and that the League 
of Nations declared Germany to be the aggressor. And France indi- 
cated that she would certainly not act without a prior commitment 
of British aid. 

The fourth week in September found the British and French 
urging the Czechoslovaks to surrender certain territories to Ger- 
many, while Poland and Hungary added their demands for the 
cession of Teschen and Slovakia, respectively. Chamberlain now 
made several round-trip flights to Germany and was evidently upset 
by Hitler's increasingly drastic stand. When the Fiihrer finally 
threatened to use force unless all his demands were met by October 
I, a conference was hurriedly arranged among the premiers of the 
four leading west European states. The result of their meeting was 


the so-called Munich Agreement, which was variously hailed as a 
great achievement in the interest of peace and denounced as a be- 
trayal of central Europe. 

Certainly the Munich Agreement kept the peace of Europe for the 
moment, but it did so by according to Germany without war, though 
at a somewhat slower rate than had at first been demanded, virtually 
all the things that Hitler had asked for. Nazi diplomacy had again 
been successful and another pillar of the Versailles structure had 
been undermined, all without the shedding of a drop of German 
blood. In this respect there was nothing epochal about the Munich 
accord, but it did mark the last occasion on which Great Britain and 
France were ready to be "caught unprepared," and the last occasion 
on which such persons as Mr. Chamberlain — derisively nicknamed 
by his opponents, Monsieur J'aime Berlin — were willing to accept at 
its face value a Nazi promise of territorial satiety. 

War Again 

The most recent diplomatic events, those which led directly to 
the outbreak of a new European war in September 1939, are dis- 
cussed at some length elsewhere in this volume. Suffice it to say here 
that the Germans, apparently motivated by a mixture of legitimate 
grievances, exaggerated sentimentalism, the agitation produced by 
unchecked diplomatic success, a philosophy which accords rights to 
nations in proportion to their virility as expressed in military might, 
effective opportunism, and an appreciation of the unwillingness of 
satisfied nations to take up arms for a principle, went ahead relent- 
lessly to take over area after area in central Europe. Eventually, in 
the case of Poland, resort was had to actual warfare. Thereafter, 
again as on previous occasions, the achievement of the immediate 
Nazi objective was labeled the last demand on Europe. This time, 
however, Great Britain and France appeared not to place much 
faith in the promise. And so, as in 1914, the great game of diplo- 
matic bluff brought on war. A quarter-century had passed in the 
interval; a new generation had grown to miUtary age; and humanity 
could register its advance chiefly in the production of more effective 
instruments of destruction. 

Suggested Bibliography 

Armstrong, H. F., "We or They," Two Worlds in Conflict, Macmillan, 


Ashton, E. B., The Fascist: His State and His Mind, Morrow, 1937. 

Ball, M. M., Post-War German- Austrian Relations. The Anschluss Move- 
ment, igi8-ig^6, Stanford University Press, 1937. 

Brown, F. J., Hodges, C, and Roucek, J. S., eds.. Contemporary World 
Politics. An Introduction to the Problems of International Relations, 
Wiley, 1939. 

Buell, R. L., Poland: Key to Europe, Knopf, 1939. 

Childs, H. L., ed., Propaganda and Dictatorship, Princeton University 
Press, 1936. 

Cruttwell, C. R. M. F., A History of Peaceful Change in the Modern 
World, Oxford, 1937. 

Dean, V. M., Europe in Retreat, Knopf, 1939. 

Ford, G. S., ed., Dictatorship in the Modern World, 2nd ed., University 
of Minnesota Press, 1939. 

Gedye, G. E. R., Betrayal in Central Europe. Austria and Czecho- 
slova\ia: the Fallen Bastions, Harper, 1939. 

Hitler, A., Mein Kampf, (tr.) Reynal & Hitchcock or Stackpole, 1939. 

Hutton, G., Is It Peace? Macmillan, 1937. 

Kohn, H., Force or Reason? Harvard University Press, 1937. 

Langsam, W. C, The World Since 1914, 3rd ed., Macmillan, 1936. 

■ Major European and Asiatic Developments Since 1935, Macmil- 
lan, 1939. 

In Quest of Empire: The Problem of Colonies, Foreign Policy 

Association, 1939. 

ed.. Documents and Readings in the History of Europe Since 

igi8, Lippincott, 1939. 

Liddell Hart, B. H., Europe in Arms, Random House, 1937. 

Monroe, E., The Mediterranean in Politics, Oxford, 1938. 

Morrow, I. F. D., The Peace Settlement in the German-Polish Border- 
lands, London, 1936. 

Nicolson, H., Peacema\ing, Houghton Mifflin, 1933. 

Noble, G. B., Policies and Opinions at Paris: Wilsonian Diplomacy, the 
Versailles Peace, and French Public Opinion, Macmillan, 1935. 

Saucerman, S., International Transfers of Territory in Europe, with 
Names of the A'Qected Political Subdivisions as of igio-igi^ and the 
Present, U. S. Government Printing Office, 1937. 

SchifF, v., The Germans at Versailles, 1919, London, 1930, 

Schuman, F. L., Europe on the Eve: The Crisis of Diplomacy of 1933- 
1939, Knopf, 1939. 

Shotwell, J. T., On the Rim of the Abyss, Macmillan, 1936. 


Simonds, F. H., and Emeny, B., The Great Powers in World Politics. 
International Relations and Economic Nationalism, 3rd ed. American 
Book, 1939. 

Sontag, R. J., Germany and England: Background of Conflict, 1848- 
18^4, Appleton-Century, 1938. (Timely, in that it explains back- 
ground of antagonism.) 

Stephens, W. E., Revisions of the Treaty of Versailles, Columbia Uni- 
versity Press, 1939. 

Temperley, H. W. V., ed., A History of the Peace Conference of Paris, 
6 vols., London, 1920- 1924. 

Toynbee, A. J., Survey of International Affairs, ig20-ig2i, ig2^, London, 
1925. (Annual since then.) 

Wache, W., System der Paf{te. Die politischen Vertrdge der Nach- 
\riegszeit, Berlin, 1938. (Lists about 1,000 post-World War treaties.) 

Wegerer, A. von., A Refutation of the Versailles War Guilt Thesis, 
Knopf, 1939. 

Wheeler-Bennett, J. W., ed., Documents on International Affairs, 1^28, 
London, 1929. (Annual since then.) 

Wiskemann, E., Czechs and Germans. A Study of the Struggle in the 
Historic Provinces of Bohemia and Moravia, Oxford, 1938. 

Zimmern, A. E., The League of Nations and the Rule of Law, igi8- 
^935' 2nd ed., Macmillan, 1939. 




SINCE 1918 


Benjamin Higgins 

The Treaty of Versailles did not end hostilities between the par- 
ticipants in the first World War. The scene of battle was merely 
shifted from military to economic fronts. The guns ceased to fire on 
November, 1918; but for two decades the war was carried on with 
economic weapons. Slow, subtle, and unspectacular in their action 
as compared with mihtary weapons, these economic weapons are 
none the less deadly in the destruction of national welfare; and, as 
is often the case with military instruments of war, the effective use 
of economic instruments exposes the user to grave danger and 
prompts retaliation in kind. 

In this chapter the main battles on the economic front after 1918 
will be discussed, the principal weapons will be described. We shall 
see how they were expected to work and what their actual effects 
were. The chief economic factors in the international struggle for 
prosperity and power will be considered. We shall try to find out 
whether war is the only possible solution for this struggle. There is 
no denying the importance of political and personality aspects of 
war in the twentieth century; but some knowledge of the under- 
lying economic issues is essential if we are to understand completely 
the declaration of war on Germany by Britain and France — and the 



invasion of China by Japan, of Ethiopia and Albania by Italy, of 
Poland by Russia. 

At the outset, I should like to warn the reader on two scores. First, 
the "facts" of this story are strangely contradictory, and "facts" can 
be found to support either side of most of the arguments about the 
economic factors in war. We must be wary of "facts," and resign 
ourselves to doing some hard thinking if we are to get a true picture 
of the war situation. Second, we must remember that when we 
speak of the actions of "Germany," "France," "Great Britain," and 
other "countries," we are really talking, not about transcendental 
powers, but about groups of people with human desires and human 
weaknesses, groups with the capabilities and limitations of human 
intelligence; specifically, we are talking about those groups which 
are powerful enough politically to influence the action of their gov- 
ernments. If we bear this fact constantly in mind, the true signifi- 
cance of the events we are about to examine will be much more 
easily discerned. 

Issues in the Economic War 

The Doctrine of "Imperialistic Wars." Whatever our general atti- 
tude towards the teachings of Karl Marx, his abiHty to forecast 
historical developments cannot be denied. As G. D. H. Cole puts it, 
"Marx foresaw the advent of the age of Economic Imperialism, 
dominated by the rivalries of the advanced countries over markets, 
spheres of influence, territorial expansion, and the building up of 
alliances and groupings designed to foster their several economic 
interests. He foresaw — that these rivalries would lead inevitably to 
wars of colonial conquest, and finally to wars between the great 
Imperialist Powers ."^ 

A thesis which has been so successful a basis for prognosis is 
worth our consideration. Briefly, the Marxian interpretation of war 
is as follows : "Capitalists" in highly industrialized countries, threat- 
ened with falling profits as opportunities for domestic exploitation 
are exhausted, cast envious eyes towards undeveloped portions of 
the globe. These "new" countries are potential new markets, new 
fields for investment, new sources of cheap raw materials. Since the 

'^ What Marx Really Meant, Knopf, 1934, p. 57. 


"capitalists" are also the dominant political group, they are able to 
persuade their governments to foster and protect their foreign ven- 
tures. When they clash with "capitalists" of other countries who are 
also in search of markets, investment opportunities, and suppHes of 
raw materials, they can commandeer the military resources of their 
respective governments to oust their rivals from desired colonial 

This thesis seems to fit previous wars. And is not the desire of 
the "have-nots" to get new territories and new commercial advan- 
tages, and the conflicting desire of the "haves" to maintain their 
relative superiority, the real basis of the bitter economic war from 
1918-1939, and of the resort to military operations in September, 
1939? We must not accept "yes" as the answer too uncritically. Let 
us examine it more carefully, and see whether a real conflict of eco- 
nomic interests exists. Population pressure, need for outlets for in- 
vestment, need for markets, need for access to raw materials — these 
are the usual arguments presented by the "have-nots" in their terri- 
torial demands. Let us study them in order. 

Population pressure and demand for colonies. In April, 1939, a 
Berlin correspondent to The Spectator was able to write, "To-day, 
the leaders here are primarily concerned with establishing Ger- 
many's 'Lebensraum.' " Japan emphasized its need for room to live 
before its invasion of Manchuria and later of China. Shortly after 
the invasion of Ethiopia by Italy, Dr. Augusto Rosso, then Italian 
Ambassador to Washington, said in an American speech: "I am 
ready to admit that Italy wants to live, to work, to progress. In short, 
to expand. . . . There can be no denial of the fact that we need ex- 
pansion. Our forty-four million people are compressed within an 
area less than half the size of your State of Texas, and not as rich in 
natural resources."^ 

It must be said at the outset that a growing population is not in 
itself undesirable.^ It seems clear enough that in new, undeveloped 

^ "Italy's Conflict with Ethiopia," International Conciliation , December 

i935> PP- 550-551- 

^ Indeed, so eminent an authority as Prof. Alvin Hansen regards the decHne 
in the rate of population growth in this country as "overwhelmingly signifi- 
cant" for the explanation of our failure to attain full recovery from the crash 
and deflation of 1929 to 1933. ("Progress and Declining Population," Am. 
Econ. Rev., March, 1939.) 


countries, increased population is essential if the natural resources 
are to be exploited to the full. Even in highly industrialized coun- 
tries Hke the United States, the prospect of a growing population 
provides the stimulus for investment in housing, public utiHties, 
transportation, and other fields capable of absorbing a great deal of 
savings and a great many men, with consequent benefits to the 
whole country. On the other hand, the "law of diminishing returns" 
does operate with respect to population. Beyond a certain point, with 
given area, given technical knowledge, and given amounts of capi- 
tal, an increase in the population will be accompanied by a decline 
in income per capita. 

Thus there is, at any given time, an "optimum" population for 
each country. This optimum is ever changing. New inventions, dis- 
covery of new resources, accumulation of capital, increase the size 
of the population which maximizes per capita income. Moreover, 
changes outside the country change the optimum. The discovery of 
a new continent with abundant raw materials and lucrative markets 
for finished goods, improvements in transportation, reduction in 
tariffs by other countries — all these would make it possible to main- 
tain a larger population in comfort at home. On the other hand, 
anything which restricts the volume of international trade — mo- 
nopolies in other countries, tariffs and quotas, exchange control — 
makes more difficult the support of a given population in any 
country. Since in fact the tendency since 191 8 has been toward in- 
creasing restriction on trade, this point is of no little importance. 

Admitting, then, that overpopulation is possible, is it true that 
Germany, Italy, and Japan are seriously overpopulated? Here are 
some figures of density of population for 1934: 

Per square \ilometre Per square mile 

England and Wales .... 267.2 Australia 2.2 

Germany i39-7 Canada 3.0 

Italy 134-8 United States 41.3 

France 75.9 Japan 349-4 

Czechoslovakia 106.3 China i04-3 

Poland 84.0 Java 678.0 

Austria 80.4 

Russia 7.8 


Such raw figures do not constitute a test of relative overpopulation, 
although they are sometimes misused in just that way. One must 
know, in addition to the numbers per square mile or kilometre, 
what those square miles and kilometres are Hke; what is the state 
of technical progress in each country; how much capital is available 
for investment. Indeed, as Professor Robbins has pointed out, no 
adequate measure of overpopulation exists; the best that economists 
can do is to "risk their reputations" and "make cautious guesses 
guided by broad views of all the available data."* 

The most we can say is that these figures in themselves do not 
lend much support to the demands of the "have-nots." In the first 
place, England is much more densely populated than either Ger- 
many or Italy. In the second place, we see that Java has a problem 
very much greater than Germany's or Italy's or even Japan's; and 
who ever heard of Java's "need for expansion" ? We see too that the 
territories now incorporated into the Reich are only slightly less 
thickly populated than Germany itself, and need for "Lebensraum" 
interpreted in terms of pure space would scarcely justify their acqui- 
sition. Why don't Germany and Italy make demands on Russia, 
least populous of all European powers ? The China that Japan wants 
as space for excess population is nearly as densely populated as Ger- 
many and Italy, who feel themselves overcrowded! We see too that 
small populations are no guarantee of prosperity — witness Canada 
and Australia. 

But, the fair-minded reader will object, if England were over- 
populated in the true sense, she could send emigrants to other parts 
of her empire, while Germany and Italy do not have this opportu- 
nity. The mere fact that in 1934, one in which any existing "over- 
population" must have been keenly felt, 20,000 more British subjects 
returned to England than emigrated to overseas territory^ suggests 
that if England is overpopulated, the Empire is not providing much 
of a relief. The Dominions, after all, have their own immigration 
laws. Nor have the "have-nots" made much use of the colonial op- 

* "The Optimum Theory of Population," in London Essays in Economics, 
ed. by Gregory and Dalton, p. 128. 

° Sir Norman Angell, Raw Materials, Population Pressure, and War, World 
Peace Foundation, 1936, p. 33. 


portunities they have had abready. In 1914, after thirty years of occu- 
pation, Germany had only 25,000 German people, out of a total 
colonial population of thirteen millions, in the colonies she now con- 
siders so essential to her well-being. After some forty years in Man- 
churia, Japan had settled only 500,000 Japanese there, although there 
were 34 million people in that country.® Italy was able to wrest 
Libya from Turkey after a two-year war in 1911-1912. Of the 25,000 
odd Italians now in Libya, nearly all comprise the military garrison 
there. In 1914, there were more Germans and Italians in New York 
City than in the German and Italian colonies. It is too early to make 
judgments on the success of the Italian colonization of Ethiopia, 
when armed opposition still exists in some parts of the country. But 
it is significant that the Addis Ababa correspondent of Critica 
Fascista could write in the September i, 1938, issue: "We are already 
in the phase of decline. The interest of Italians in the Empire is 
already attenuated." The number of laborers in Italian East Africa 
actually decreased from 115,000 in March, 1937, to 36,000 in March, 
1938, and to 21,000 in July. Italy is finding that, instead of having an 
excess population, it cannot spare men for colonization from war 
and war preparation!^ 

It would not be safe to conclude from these few scattered facts 
that colonial possessions do not constitute under any conditions a 
safety valve for overcrowded countries. The great waves of emigra- 
tion in the nineteenth century would belie any such hypothesis; and 
it must be remembered that the United States is now largely closed 
to European immigration by the "quota" laws of 1921 and 1926. 
But it does appear that in the short run, under present conditions, 
acquisition of new territory cannot be expected to give much direct 
relief to overpopulated countries. Aid must come rather in the form 
of opening up new markets, increasing the supplies of raw materials, 
etc., and so increasing the productivity of workers in the mother 
country and increasing the size of population which is the "opti- 
mum" there. 

In any case, it is obvious that if overpopulation is a serious threat 
to the well-being of certain countries, and if emigration to relatively 

® R. F. Andrews, "Hitler and Colonies," Labour Monthly, March 3, 1939. 
"^ Jean Albert, L'Europe Nouvelle, Nov. 12, 1938, p. 1236. 


underpopulated areas is the only solution, there is still no need either 
for peaceful redistribution of territory or for war. The problem 
could be partially met by freedom of immigration.^ 

New territories as outlets for investment. Of all the components 
of the Marxist concept of "imperialism," the need for new outlets 
for investment is most difficult to fit into the post-war picture. True, 
the "satisfied powers" have experienced difficulty in finding profit- 
able fields for investment of savings, particularly since 1929. In the 
case of the "unsatisfied powers," the shoe has been on the other 
foot; their chief investment problem has been scarcity of capital. 
Not only have they had insufficient capital to finance their own 
domestic industries, but they have been only too glad to borrow 
large sums from foreign capitalists when possible. Germany, far 
from seeking foreign outlets for excess savings, has wanted to keep 
those savings at home so badly that she has made it a crime punish- 
able by death to invest abroad. The rapid industrialization of Japan 
has absorbed every drop of domestic savings and more besides. 
Italy's foreign debt is small; but her large government expenditures 
since 191 8 have been largely loan-financed, and have mopped up 
most of whatever investable funds were available. Insofar as the 
"field-for-investment" argument applies to the post-war situation at 
all, it would serve only as an explanation of why the "satisfied 
powers" were anxious to retain control of colonies for their own 
investors ; it cannot explain the demands of the "have-nots." 

Even if we admit that at the height of the boom of the 'twenties 

there may have been German, Italian, and possibly Japanese capital 

seeking opportunities for foreign investment, there would still be 

no reason for redistribution of territory by negotiation or by war. 

Capital moves from country to country much more easily than either 

^ If Germany has too many people and America has too few, as economists 
in the two countries insist is the case, the answer is inescapable: let desirable 
German people come to America. One might argue that Herr Schmidt will 
not be happy in a country populated with Mr. Smiths, and that he must have 
a German colony to which to go. That there is a problem there cannot be 
denied; but America's success as a "melting-pot" shows that it is not insoluble. 
If the "satisfied powers" placed no restrictions on immigration of Germans, 
Italians, and lapanese, these nations could scarcely complain about difficulties 
of overpopulation and consequent need for colonies. Freedom of immigration 
brings with it problems of its own; but is it too high a price to pay for peace — 
and prosperity? 


men or goods, virtually without restriction. A German or Italian 
who wants to invest abroad has only to notify his broker to buy 
certain foreign securities. If he prefers, he can deposit money in a 
foreign bank and use it to build a factory, hire men, and buy raw 
materials — to go into business abroad, for himself. There is more 
American capital invested in Canada than EngHsh. Germany, far 
from lacking foreign outlets for savings, was in severe financial 
straits in 1928-29 because of the transfer of capital from Germany to 
New York to take advantage of the stock-market boom there. 

Need for investment outlets could cause international conflict if 
colonies imposed discriminatory taxation or limitations on invest- 
ment of foreigners but not of citizens of the mother country; and 
when in addition foreigners actually want to invest in those colonies 
and have idle funds to use in that way. In fact, this combination of 
circumstances has not occurred often enough to be regarded as a 
serious issue. 

Need for markets. The truth of the "need for markets" argument 
can be briefly and simply stated. When there is freedom of trade, 
the actual sovereignty of colonial or other territories is of little im- 
portance. If, for example, Canada has no trade restrictions whatso- 
ever, then Germany and England can sell to Canadians on equal 
terms. England might have some shght advantage since there are 
more people of EngHsh than of German origin in Canada; and it 
may be easier to sell goods with "Heatheringway" on the label than 
with "Hanfstaengel" on the label. If so, the terms of trade with 
Canada will be better for the Englishman than the German, and the 
English will need to sacrifice fewer commodities for a given collec- 
tion of Canadian goods than will the Germans. It is hard to believe, 
however, that Canadians will continue to buy English goods if there 
is a better German product available at the same price under normal 
conditions — the "boycott" of Japanese silk stockings by righteous 
American girls notwithstanding. 

This discussion is in a sense "academic"; neither freedom of trade 
nor freedom of immigration exists. Such being the case, the demand 
for markets has sense. Germany cannot buy raw materials in the 
world market unless she can sell finished goods in the world market. 
As we shall see, world markets are barricaded by tarifis, quotas, and 


exchange restrictions. Since 1918 the Germans, unable to sell on ad- 
vantageous terms, have found raw materials expensive in terms of 
the amount of goods they were compelled to exchange for them. By 
closing markets to German goods, other countries have lowered the 
German standard of living (and incidentally, their own) . True, the 
important markets for Germany, Italy, and Japan are not colonial 
but Continental, English, and American. One might argue, how- 
ever, that failing these large markets, colonial markets would at 
least be better than none. 

Raw materials and colonies. The need for access to raw materials 
is the most frequently advanced argument for acquisition of new 
territory by the "have-nots." Germany's case has been admirably 
presented by Hjalmar Schacht in an article in Foreign Affairs for 
January, 1937. "Before the war," Schacht points out, "Germany's 
world investments were in round figures $12,000 millions, the profits 
of which could be used to buy raw materials all over the world. The 
markets where raw materials were procured were completely free." 
Supplies of basic commodities were not monopolized, international 
trade was lubricated by a smoothly working gold standard. Immi- 
gration was relatively unhampered. But "All these elementary prin- 
ciples of international trade and intercourse have now disappeared." 
German foreign investments have been wiped out, her colonies 
taken away. Germany is particularly deficient in raw materials; now 
that Italy has Ethiopia, "Germany remains the lone unsatisfied large 
Power." If peace is to be maintained (!), this raw-materials problem 
must be met. "I therefore wish to name two conditions essential to 
the solution of Germany's raw material problem. First, Germany 
must produce raw materials on territory under her own manage- 
ment. Second, this colonial territory must form part of her monetary 

With regard to Italy, Mussolini, in a speech to the National As- 
sembly of Corporations (March 23, 1936), has said: "Italy will not 
resign herself to the abused commonplace that she is poor in raw 
materials. It must be said instead that she does not possess certain 
raw materials. This is a fundamental reason for her colonial de- 
mands." Need for raw materials was given as one of the main rea- 
sons for Italy's Ethiopian campaign. Japan too, threatened by increas- 


ing restriction on Japanese exports, and consequently increasing 
difficulty in getting raw materials, joined in the cry for colonies. 
Prominent citizens o£ "satisfied" nations — such as Sir Samuel Hoare, 
Sir Arthur Salter, and the Archbishop of York — publicly acknowl- 
edged the existence of a grave problem; and the League of Nations 
appointed a committee to study it. 

That there is a fundamental discrepancy between the relative 
abundance of basic raw materials at the disposal of different political 
systems cannot be denied. The British Empire, for example, pro- 
duces 99.5% of the world's jute, 94% of the nickel, 58% of the rub- 
ber, 51% of the wool, 44.5% of the lead. It produces 30% of the 
world's copper; 25% of the world's coal; 24% of the cotton; 23% 
of the wheat; 20.5% of the vegetable oils. Of the six raw materials 
which Dr. Gobbels considers basic^ — coal, iron, cotton, oil, rubber, 
and copper — the Empire is deficient in none; and the only serious 
shortages are petroleum and certain textiles. The United States 
similarly is well supplied with all "basic" raw materials but rubber; 
leads the world in production of coal, petroleum, cotton, lead, zinc; 
is deficient in textiles other than cotton. Russia stands next to the 
United States and the Empire in raw-materials production; is de- 
ficient in rubber, minor metals, and to some extent in copper and 

The Royal Institute of International Affairs, in its study of "Raw 
Materials and Colonies," after examining the deficiencies of the 
three "satisfied powers" discussed in the preceding paragraph, says: 
"In the case of France, Germany, Italy, and Japan, the deficiencies 
are so numerous that it is better to examine such resources as they 
do possess." The inclusion of France among these "have-nots" is 
striking; we hear litde about French colonial ambitions. But the 
three "unsatisfied powers" are in still worse condition than France. 
France has abundant iron, sufficient flax, nickel, and vegetable oils. 
Germany "has a surplus of coal and potash" but otherwise "she is 
partly or entirely deficient in every material." Italy has silk, hemp, 
minor metals, vegetable oils; but lacks all other basic materials, 
notably coal. Japan has silk and sulphur, some coal and copper. 
When we come to foodstuffs, we find that the British Empire, the 

^Vdl\ischer Beobachter, March 2, 1936. 


United States, and the U.S.S.R. are approximately self-sufficient, 
while Germany, Italy, and Japan are dependent upon imports for 
certain important foodstuffs. 

Certain additional facts must be included before the picture is 
complete, however. First, except for rubber and to a lesser degree 
copper, the essential raw materials are to an overwhelming degree 
produced in sovereign states. This fact is small comfort to the "have- 
nots" but does change the aspect of colonial demands. Secondly 
raw materials must be bought and paid for, regardless of the sov- 
ereignty of the country from which they come. Generally speaking, 
raw materials are sold to the highest bidder, regardless of nationality. 
Thus the United States, which has no rubber, nevertheless consumes 
one-third of the world output, although that output is largely in 
British hands. Similarly, the British textile industry consumes most 
of the American output of cotton, and Canada sells more to the 
United States than she does to Great Britain. 

The "mother country" has not always found unlimited impor- 
tation of colonial goods convenient. England does not by any means 
admit all Empire raw materials free. The Philippines, annexed by 
the United States partly because they were rich in certain tropical 
raw materials, were subsequently dis-annexed partly because of the 
"glut" of raw materials and the impossibiUty of excluding PhiHp- 
pine imports so long as the islands were part of the Union. Italy, 
having conquered Ethiopia "for her raw materials," found it neces- 
sary to limit imports of hides and coffee to 20% and 30% respec- 
tively of total Ethiopian exports of these commodities !^° 

Putting the "raw materials" argument in a nutshell, so long as 
free trade prevails it is of the slightest possible importance which 
flag floats over the territories producing raw materials. We have 
admitted above that colonial preference for products of the home- 
land may give some slight advantage in the terms of trade to the 
mother country, so that other countries must pay slightly more for 
those raw materials ; but this is all. When on the other hand there is 
serious discrimination against the products of countries other than 
the motherland, in the form of tariffs, quotas, and exchange control, 

^° lean Albert, op. cit. Of course, desire to increase the supply of foreign 
exchange was at least as important as desire for protection in this legislation. 


then those other countries will find it extremely difficult to buy the 
necessary raw materials. They can still buy them; but to get the 
foreign exchange with which to do so they must sell their own 
products to the world; and if sales are limited by trade restrictions, 
the price of raw materials in terms of domestic land, labor, and capi- 
tal may be prohibitive. Under these conditions — and they are the 
conditions that actually exist — the unequal distribution of raw mate- 
rials among various political units is a serious handicap to the "have- 

Dr. Schacht and Dr. Funk know very well that in order to get 
raw materials one has only to pay the price. Accordingly, they put 
their argument in subtle terms. Germany cannot, they say, get the 
necessary foreign exchange to buy raw materials because of the dis- 
crimination against German exports. They must, therefore, have 
colonies in which the German currency will circulate. This argu- 
ment, which sounds plausible, serves to hide the real truth. 

In the first place, it should be clearly understood that if Germany 
were willing to depress prices or the external value of the mark 
sufficiently, her raw-materials problem would be solved. For in 
either case, since German goods would be made cheaper to foreign- 
ers, German exports would increase and the foreign exchange 
needed to buy raw materials would thereby become available. The 
policy of reducing German prices was tried by Briining in 1931-32, 
not altogether without success; but the process was too painful for 
the public taste. The policy of depreciating the mark was thought to 
be impossible for the following reasons : 

(i) Currency depreciation was associated with uncontrolled infla- 
tion, because of post-war experience. Thus a policy of devaluation 
would be politically difficult and would lead to a "flight of capital"; 
that is, a conversion of the assets held by German investors into 
foreign holdings, such as foreign securities or deposits in foreign 
banks. "Flight of capital" would be likely to involve difficulties for 
the German banks from which deposits were being withdrawn and 
would tend to depress German security markets as nervous inves- 
tors dumped their holdings on the markets. 

(2) Substantial amounts were due in terms of foreign currencies, 
such as reparations; thus depreciation of the mark would increase 
the debt in terms of marks. 


(3) Devaluation would increase the price in marks of raw mate- 
rials, and decrease the amount of foreign exchange obtained per unit 
of exports. 

The possession of colonies does not alter these arguments; and we 
must conclude that Germany would find it undesirable to depress 
prices or depreciate the mark even if she had colonies in which 
marks circulated. 

Let us suppose that Britain hands over to Germany certain colo- 
nies, and that shillings are replaced with marks. The change in 
sovereignty will not change the tastes of the colonials. If they for- 
merly bought EngUsh ale in preference to German beer, they will 
continue to do so. To pay for the English ale, they must convert 
their new German marks into shillings. This process of selling 
marks and buying shillings will lead to a fall in the value of the 
mark in terms of shillings (and so in terms of other currencies). 
But this, we have seen, is precisely what Germany could not permit. 
How to prevent it? There is only one way: by preventing the colo- 
nials from buying British or other non-German goods. 

It is quite possible that German supervision would increase the 
productivity of the colonies; and with an increase in income, the 
colonials might be inclined to buy more German — as well as other — 
goods. Certainly, if Germany took over the colonies, she could re- 
move existing restrictions on German imports. But to prevent a fall 
in the mark when marks were circulated in the colonies, it is not 
enough that the colonials buy more German goods. They must not 
buy any substantial amounts of any other kinds of goods. The in- 
creased productivity and removal of restrictions on German exports 
have nothing to do with circulating marks in the colonies. The 
Schacht-Fun\ argument really boils down to this: we must have 
colonies, because then we can force the colonials to buy only German 

" The German demand for colonies is sometimes countered by showing the 
small part played by the colonies in Germany's pre-war trade and investment. 
Here, however, we must agree with Schacht. Before the war the prevalence 
of free trade made development of the colonies unnecessary. Now the situation 
is entirely different, and it seems probable that Germany would develop any 
colonies she possessed as much as possible. What the possibilities of the old 
German colonies are is another question. 


It would be fruitless to deny that the demands for colonies are 
tempered by fear of war. The very fact that the "have-nots" have 
emphasized their need for colonies rather than asking for trade con- 
cessions suggests that war was in their minds. Whatever hope there 
might be for free trade under normal conditions, it is fantastic to 
expect free trade during war. 

The conclusions reached in this section can now be summarized. 
Population pressure and lack of outlets for investment seem to be of 
secondary importance in post-war international conflict. On the 
other hand, Germany, Italy, and Japan are relatively deficient in 
basic raw materials and foodstuffs. Since the period following the 
war has been one of increasingly severe restrictions on international 
trade, it seems highly probable that lack of access to markets and the 
accompanying inability to buy raw materials have worked real hard- 
ships on these three countries. It is against this background that the 
economic war since 19 18 emerges in its most significant form. 

Versailles and After 

The truth is that we have got our way. We have got most of the 
things we set out to get. The German navy has been handed over, 
the German mercantile shipping has been handed over, and the 
German colonies have been given up. One of our chief trade com- 
petitors has been most seriously crippled, and our Allies are about 
to become her biggest creditors. That is no small achievement. — 
Lloyd George with respect to the Versailles Treaty, reported in Lord 
Riddell's Intimate Diary of the Peace Conference and After, igi8- 
ig2^ (Reynal, 1934). 

Whether or not Germany's economic welfare was seriously im- 
paired by loss of her "Overseas Empire" is, perhaps, debatable. That 
her losses in general under the treaty were a crushing blow to the 
German economy, especially in a world of increasing restriction on 
international trade, can scarcely be questioned. Among the more 
important cessions to the AUies were the following: 

(i) All merchant vessels over 1600 tons, half of the vessels between 
1000 and 1600 tons, one-quarter of her smaller vessels. 

(2) "All her rights and titles over her overseas possessions." 

(3) Areas containing about one-third of her coal, about three- 


fourths o£ her iron ore, nearly two-thirds of her zinc, over a quar- 
ter of her lead, about one-tenth of her factories. 

(4) Agricultural areas containing about 15% of her arable land, 
12.4% of her oxen and cow stock, 12.5% of her pigs, 10.7% of her 
forests, 16.7% of her cereals. 

(5) Five thousand railway locomotives and 150,000 cars; a giant 
crane in Kiel; certain chemical patent rights; all German invest- 
ments in Allied countries, including the Dominions, and French 
and British colonies. 

In addition, Germany agreed to deliver to France thousands of 
livestock animals, hundreds of thousands of tons of coal-tar, benzol, 
sulfate of ammonia, and to deliver annually for ten years 7,000,000 
tons of coal to France, 8,000,000 to Belgium, and to Italy an amount 
increasing from 4,500,000 to 8,500,000 tons over a six-year period. 
Last, but not least, Germany was to pay "the entire cost of the vv^ar" 
in reparations. Small wonder that Germany regarded the treaty as 
a national disaster for her! Even if free trade had prevailed, so that 
the actual locale of raw materials would have been of slight impor- 
tance, the German losses were heavy enough; in face of the actual 
restrictions placed upon German exports by the protective policies 
of her (former) enemies, the treaty was calamitous. And is it too 
much to surmise that governments capable of imposing so severe a 
treaty were also capable of imposing trade barriers for the precise 
purpose of exploiting to the full their newly won relative trade 
advantage over Germany } 

The treaty, besides the despoliation of Germany, contained an- 
other seed of discontent which was later to bear fruit. Italy was 
inveigled into the war on the side of the Allies by two treaties (Lon- 
don and St. Jean de Maurienne) in which she was promised a sub- 
stantial slice of the German colonies, which would provide popula- 
tion outlets and raw-materials supplies, in case of an Allied victory. 
In fact, Italy received only about one twenty-fifth as much territory 
as England and France each got, and much of that territory was 
desert or fever-ridden. The feeling that she was cheated at Versailles 
lent added vigor to the Italian colonial demands during the years 
following the war.-^^ 

^^ C£. "Business and Financial Report of the Fascist Confederation of Indus- 
trialists," Monthly Survey, December i, 1935. 


Reparations. The highly debatable character of Germany's "war 
guilt," the gross exaggeration of actual Allied losses, the equally 
exaggerated estimates of "Germany's capacity to pay" in the sense 
of possible excess of domestic production over domestic consump- 
tion — these factors in the reparations controversy are of secondary 
significance. The single, all-important fact about reparations is this: 
Germany could pay only by means of an export surplus, and her 
creditors prevented her from paying by erecting barriers against 
German imports. 

It is essential to be clear on this point. The payment of reparations 
involved two sets of problems, one internal and one external. First 
of all, the German government had to obtain a surplus of revenue 
over expenditures. Since its ability to borrow internally was virtually 
exhausted by the end of the war, the internal problem could be met 
only by an excess of taxation over expenditures. In this way a sum 
would be made available in mar\s for payment of reparations. 

The AlHes, naturally, would not accept payment in marks. Thus 
Germany was faced with the "external" problem of converting her 
surplus of marks into foreign currencies. She could pay in gold, the 
international money; but unfortunately the total German gold 
supply in 191 8 was only a small fraction of the amount due in the 
first installment of reparations. She could pay by transferring for- 
eign balances; but to have foreign balances a country must sell more 
than she buys. She could buy foreign currency on the open market 
with marks; but in the process, since the supply of marks and the 
demand for foreign exchange is thereby increased, the German 
mark would depreciate in terms of other currencies. This deprecia- 
tion would almost certainly have led to a "flight of capital." As- 
suming all other trade relations to balance, the pouring of German 
marks into the world market in exchange for other currencies would 
result in so rapid a drop in the value of the mark that the reparations 
might never be paid in any case; each drop in the mark would 
merely increase the size of the amount due in terms of marks. 

Thus the "external problem" boils down to this: Germany had to 
have a favorable balance of trade. By selling more than she bought 
in the world market, Germany could build up foreign balances to 
be transferred in payment of reparations. Foreign balances are the 


property of private German citizens, not of the German govern- 
ment. Germany would use her tax revenue to buy foreign balances 
from her own citizens, and use the foreign balances to pay repa- 

Before the war Germany had an "unfavorable" balance of trade, 
made possible by income from foreign investments equal to the 
import surplus. We have seen that German foreign investments 
were wiped out by the treaty, leaving Germany's balance of pay- 
ments still more unfavorable. Thus a radical revision of Germany's 
trade relations was necessary if she were to make any attempt to pay. 
Either imports had to be drastically cut, or exports had to be dras- 
tically increased, or both. Germany tried both. The problem was 
made more difficult by the mere fact that any increase in the supplies 
of German goods on the world markets would automatically reduce 
their price, and so increase the total amount of goods that must be 
sold in order to obtain a given amount of foreign exchange. Much 
more serious, Germany's creditors "refused" payment by refusing to 
admit the German goods which were the only means by which Ger- 
many could effect payment. Thus Germany was compelled to re- 
strict her own imports still more; and right here is one of the origins 
of the German self-sufficiency program. 

It soon became evident that Germany could not pay under the 
conditions that existed after 1918 — unless she borrowed the money 
to do so. To the extent that foreign funds flowed into Germany, 
Germany could pay reparations without a favorable balance of 
trade. In fact, this is precisely what happened. Up to 1924, Germany 
did make an attempt to pay; and succeeded in transferring between 
10,027 millions (estimate of the Reparation Commission) and 56,577 
millions (estimate of the German Government) gold marks; of 
which only 2.3 millions were transferred in cash, (according to 
both). If we take a figure midway between the German and the 
Reparation Commission estimates — which is probably still an over- 
estimate — we see that Germany paid up to 1924 roughly 33 billions; 
not an insignificant sum. The great bulk of the payments, however, 
was in a form that could not be repeated: ceded properties of the 
Reich and German private interests, railway materials, coal and coke, 


etc. Once the post-war depression began, the Allies refused payment 
in kind. 

According to the London agreement of May, 1921, Germany 
should have paid approximately three billions a year after that date. 
It was seen immediately that Germany would not be able to meet 
these obligations. The difficulties of transfer were enhanced by impo- 
sition of a tax of 26 per cent on all German imports by the French 
and British governments. In 1923 the British government was pre- 
pared to cut the German reparations in half; but the French had 
other ideas. In the hope of enforcing payments, French troops were 
sent into the Ruhr. Then came the "passive resistance," a sort of gen- 
eral sit-down strike by labor and capital both, with the German gov- 
ernment providing incomes for her citizens in the Ruhr through 
inflation. This last wave of German inflation reached astronomical 
figures (prices rose to 1,261,600,000,000 times their 1913 level), and 
led to complete breakdown of the monetary system, and general 
economic chaos. France capitulated, and Germany sat down with the 
Allies in 1924 and 1925 to work out the "Dawes Plan." 

The Dawes Plan was the first of a series of agreements by which 
the Allies reduced Germany's reparations obligations and at the 
same time made loans to the German government and to German 
industry in order to increase her ability to pay. Between 1924 and 
193 1 Germany met her obligations, paying altogether some 11,096 
millions of marks. In the same period, she borrowed 18,200 millions 
from abroad. It would not be quite fair to say that the Allies paid 
their own reparations by lending Germany the money to make pay- 
ments. The great bulk of foreign loans were not made directly to the 
German government, but to German industries and municipalities. 
The "internal" problem of getting a surplus of marks available for 
reparations payments remained. The loans helped solve this prob- 
lem by making possible economic stabilization, and by increasing 
the German national income by expanding industry, thus increasing 
the Government's capacity to tax and to borrow internally. Actually, 
of the years between 1924 and 1931, only in 1925 was there a budget 
surplus in Germany; but the return of confidence in the Govern- 
ment's fiscal situation and the improvement in general economic 
conditions made it possible for the Government to borrow internally 


again. Much more important, foreign loans meant that dollars, 
pounds, and francs were being offered in exchange for German se- 
curities, which increased the amount of foreign exchange available 
to the Government. The "balance of payments" of any country 
equals (Imports) — (Exports + Net Capital Inflow). Thus the 
loans from abroad solved Germany's "external" problem, and made 
it possible for her to transfer her available marks to her creditors in 
a form her creditors would accept. Since the Allies refused payment 
in German goods of the types also produced by AUied concerns, 
it seems impossible that Germany could have paid without these 
foreign loans. 

The international financial crisis of 1931 led to a drain of gold 
and foreign exchange from the Reichsbank, which threatened new 
financial collapse in Germany. Accordingly, in July President 
Hoover announced his plan for a one-year debt moratorium, which 
was approved by the American Congress and by Germany's creditors 
— who were heavily in debt to the United States and so quite ready to 
consider a postponement of all international debt payments. In Janu- 
ary, 1932, Germany, France, Great Britain, Belgium, Italy, and Japan 
met at Lausanne. There Germany's total reparation obUgations were 
reduced to a mere three biUion gold marks, in the form of bonds 
bearing 5% interest and amortized through a 1% sinking fund. 
Moreover, these bonds were not to be offered for sale by the Bank of 
International Settlements until 1935, so that Germany would have no 
payments to make in the meantime; and even then were not to be 
offered in their entirety unless the bank saw fit. 

Thus, in effect, the Allies gave up trying to make Germany pay 
for the last war shortly before the War of 1939 began, having dis- 
covered that their own vested interests prevented them from accept- 
ing payments in the one form in which Germany could possibly 
hope to pay — goods. Will they prove that they have learned the 
lesson which this experience so clearly teaches, in the event of another 
victory over Germany.? 

Inter-Allied Debts. The problems involved in the debts of the 
Allies to the United States are closely related to the reparations prob- 
lem, and the analysis is essentially the same. Here, too, the significant 


fact is that the creditor refused payment in the only possible form — 
goods and services. 

Altogether, the United States lent 10.4 billion dollars to the Allies, 
The money was raised through sale of Liberty Bonds, and used to 
pay American producers for supplies sold to the Allies. No "transfer" 
problem was involved in the contraction of the debt; the American 
government merely borrowed money from American businessmen 
and paid it back to them to cover purchases by the Allies. It is worth 
noting at once that unlike peacetime loans, which are used in "pro- 
ductive" ventures which increase the income and thus the ability to 
repay of the borrower, these wartime loans were used entirely for 
destruction. Another irony: over 3 billions of the total loans were 
made after the Armistice, to enable American business to complete 
contracts which no longer had any immediate purpose, except to pro- 
tect the profits of American investors ! 

The problem of war-debt payment is exactly the same as that of 
reparations payment. It is not enough for the debtors to have budget 
surpluses; they must also have a way of transferring the surplus. To 
do so, they must ship gold, acquire foreign balances, or float new 
loans to pay war debts. The total amount of gold outside the United 
States was considerably less than the total debt; which meant that the 
only way in which the debt could be paid with gold would be for 
the debtors to use the same gold over and over again. That is, the 
debtors would have to have favorable balances of trade, so that the 
gold shipped to pay war debts would continually flow back in pay- 
ment of trade balances. Similarly, in order to acquire foreign bal- 
ances, the debtors must have a favorable trade balance; both means 
of payment come to the same thing. 

Since the real loss to America was the goods and services that 
might have been consumed here instead of abroad, one would think 
that America would have been delighted to receive payment in 
goods and services; in other words, to permit a so-called "unfavor- 
able" balance of trade, which means that the nation is able to con- 
sume more than it produces. Increased importation of European 
goods, however, would injure the business of American producers 
of those goods; and these domestic producers proved sufficiently 
powerful poUtically not only to prevent increased imports, but to 


bring about greater restriction of imports. In 1922 tarifl schedules 
were raised almost throughout, and in 1930 the Smoot-Hawley 
tariff placed still higher barriers in the way of European imports. 
Thus, in effect, America "refused" payment by rejecting the goods 
and services which were the only possible medium of payment. 

About one billion of the principal was repaid; and some two 
billions in interest. While these sums are small in comparison with 
the actual debt, their transfer nevertheless placed considerable strain 
on the gold reserves of the debtor countries, and helped to under- 
mine the old international gold standard. Meanwhile, some of the 
interest payments were defaulted. By the time the attempt to collect 
war debts was (virtually) abandoned in the Lausanne agreement, 
the war debt had actually increased, by virtue of unpaid interest, to 
1 1.5 billion doUars.^^ 

The moral of this lesson is obvious enough. America ought not to 
provide goods for foreigners to consume unless she is willing to 
accept payment, now or later, in goods produced by foreigners. 

^^ It is worth reiterating that the sole loss to America through the Allies' 
failure to repay the war debts is the goods and services which might have been 
produced for domestic consumption with the resources used instead to provide 
goods and services for the Allies; or the equivalent amount of goods and 
services that the Allies might have exported to the United States to get foreign 
exchange to pay the debt. Even if the Allies had possessed enough gold to 
pay the debt, and had shipped it to America, it would have benefited America 
only if there were unemployment there. In that case, the Government could 
have used the funds transferred by Allied central banks to pay interest and 
principal on the Liberty Loans, instead of using internal revenue as they 
actually did. The Government could then have spent more on public works 
without raising taxation, or have reduced taxes without reducing expenditure. 
In the first case, the United States would be ahead by the value of the new 
public works. In the second, lower taxes would permit increased consumption 
and investment, leading to increased production and employment. In either 
case, there would be a rise in the standard of living corresponding to the mone- 
tary repayment of the debt, even without any increase in imports. On the other 
hand, if the debt were repaid in this manner during a boom, when full em- 
ployment prevailed, public works could be expanded only at the expense of 
private enterprise, and vice versa. The gold could only be buried in Treasury 
vaults, as is the case with the 17 billions or so now in the possession of the 
United States Treasury — or, as we said before, it could be used to pay for an 
import surplus. Another way of presenting this argument would be to show 
that during a period of under-employment, the inflation made possible by an 
increase in gold reserves could lead to expansion of production and output; but 
with full employment could lead only to a rise in prices. The rise in prices 
would automatically produce an import surplus through retraction of foreign 
demand for American exports. 


Otherwise she merely lowers her own standard of living.^^ Apart 
from this, the history of the war debt is significant insofar as it helps 
to explain the international friction following the war. The Ameri- 
can people had an idea that somehow or other they were being 
cheated. The European debtor nations resented the drain of gold to 
America and the accompanying financial difficulties, and the in- 
ability to sell on favorable terms in the American market; both 
effects being the result of American foreign trade policy. These 
conditions led directly to the competitive currency depreciation fol- 
lowing 1931, which will be discussed below. 

The Arsenal of Economic Warfare 

The effort to obtain trade advantages and to foster home industries 
took many forms, some of them very subtle. There were, however, 
five or six weapons which were of particular importance. In this 
section, we shall describe these more important instruments of eco- 
nomic war and analyse their effects upon the user and upon the rest 
of the world. 

I. Tariffs 

The tariff is the oldest and best known of the current devices for 
fostering domestic industry "at the expense of the foreigner." Its 
effect is to raise the price at which an import must be sold if it is to 
yield a normal profit to both the importer and the foreign producer. 
In this way it makes possible an increased output on the part of 
domestic producers of the protected goods who would otherwise 
find their costs too high relative to the costs of foreign producers 
to sell more than they now do. It therefore increases the incomes on 
domestic producers at the expense of domestic consumers and im- 
port firms. The real loss through tariffs, however, is in the uneco- 
nomic distribution of world resources that they make possible. To 
comprehend the reduction in standard of living resulting from im- 
position of tariffs, one has only to visualize the effects of imposing 

^* This argument applies strictly only when there is full employment. Other- 
wise, through the operation of the "foreign trade multiplier" the expansion 
of the export industries may have secondary effects so important that the 
national income rises by more than the value of the exports. 


tariff barriers between the forty-eight States in this country in an 
attempt to make each State self-sufficient. 

It is worth emphasizing that the advantages of free importation 
of goods are not dependent upon tariff reductions by other coun- 
tries. Clearly, it is much better for us if we can sell abroad on more 
favorable terms; but quite apart from that, it is always more sensible 
to import anything that can be bought from abroad with less expend- 
iture of land, labor, and capital than it would take to produce it at 
home. One plausible excuse for retaining a tariff would be to use it 
as a bargaining weapon for getting trade concessions from others, 
a policy followed with no little success by Secretary of State Cordell 
Hull in recent years. Also, the case for unilateral tariff reduction is 
less clear when there is widespread unemployment at home. 

Since 1913, the trend has been almost universally towards higher 
tariffs. Protectionism got its impetus during the war, and was con- 
tinued for purposes of "reconstruction." From 1925 to 1929, a period 
of recovery in most countries, the protectionist movement continued 
almost without abatement, but was disguised by generally rising 
prices, production, and volume of international trade. Since 1931, 
the tariff war has taken on a new aspect. First, other forms of im- 
port restrictions, such as quotas and exchange control, have increased 
greatly in relative importance. Second, there has been a tendency 
towards formation of trade areas or units, such as the British and 
French Empires, within which some liberation of trade has taken 
place, while restrictions on trade outside the unit have been 
tightened. (This policy, of course, provoked still louder cries for 
colonies on the part of the "have-nots.") Third, the United States 
has embarked upon a policy of bilateral trade agreements which 
has been the most important single reversal of trend. 

A few random figures will suffice to illustrate the marked tendency 
towards protectionism after 1913. 

I. German Duties, as % of Prices 

Duty in mar\s per ton 
Commodity igi^ ig2'/ ig^i igi^ ig2'j ig^i 

Wheat 38.0 29.0 212.0 55 65 250 

Flour 45.0 49.0 326.0 102 145 430 

Butter 8.2 7.9 


Worsted 1.5 2.4 3.6 

Rolled iron .... 25.0-50.0 26.0-78.0 27.2-81.6 
Gasoline 8.7-13.0 35.8 163.0 

Shoes 6.1- 9.1 7.5-16.0 10.3-51.0 

Tires 6.7 21.0-26.2 24.6-30.8 

Silk stockings . . 16.6 57.0-64.0 82.0-91.0 

It should be noticed that in some cases, such as wheat, the duty as 
a percentage of price shows a decline from 1913 to 1927, even though 
the actual duty was raised. The reason for the discrepancy is, of 
course, that prices rose strongly during the interval, chiefly during 
the war period itself. Similarly, part of the rise in the 1931 percentage 
figures is explained by the drop of prices after 1929. 

II. French Duties, as % of Prices 
Commodity igi^ ig2y ig^i 

Wheat 34.5 23.0 180.0 

Flour 39.0-57.0 42.0-56.0 160.0 

Wine 51. 1 44.0-88.0 59.0-1 18.0 

Raw cotton yarn 3.7-83.0 4.9-130.0 6.9-185.0 

Pig iron 18.3 10.2-25.5 12.0-25.0 

Cellulose 11. 1-22.2 11. 0-22.0 1 1.0-22.0 

Silk stockings . . 10.8-21.6 31.0-62.0 44.0-88.0 
Printing paper . . 28.3 34.0 45.0 

Motor cars .... 5.5-1 i.o 45.0 44.0-86.0 

III. Italian Duties, as % of Prices 

Commodity igi^ jg2y ig^i 

Wheat 41.5 27.0 144.0 

Flour 41.0 40.0 186.0 

Wine 48.0 37.0-61.0 37.4-62.0 

Raw cotton yarn 4.4-15.0 3-3-34-0 5.3-54.0 

Pig iron 13.2 28.0-41.0 33.0-48.0 

Gasoline 57.0 115.0 360.0 

Shoes 8.2 7,7-27.0 10.7-37.5 

Motor cars .... 1.8-5.4 45-o-55-o i37-o 

Tires 6.0 21.0 40.0 

In the case of Britain, this sort of comparison is difficult, because 


before the war Britain was essentially a free-trade country. In 1915, 
two sets of tariffs were introduced that have stood ever since: the 
McKenna duties, of 33.3% of the value of certain "luxury" goods, 
and the "specific industries duties" of 33.3% to 50% on goods which 
previously came from Germany and which it was now necessary to 
develop at home. The import of dyes, essentially a German product, 
was prohibited altogether for ten years following 1921. In 1923-25 
new duties were added, ostensibly in retaliation of "unfair compe- 
tition" and dumping. The Ottawa agreements of 1932 had the effect 
of combining the Empire into a relatively free-trade area and cutting 
it off more sharply from the rest of the world. It is worth noting 
that France followed Britain's example in this respect. 
The following table will serve as a summary of our results so far : 

IV. General Tariff Levels in Europe 
Country igi^ ig2y ig^i 1^27 as % of 191^ 19^1 as % of jgi^ 

Germany 16.7 20.4 40.7 122.0 244 

France 23.6 23.0 38.0 97.5 160 

Italy 24.8 27.8 48.3 112.0 195 

As we have shown in the first section, rising tarijEFs mean reduced 
exports and thus increased difficulty in paying for necessary imports. 
Accordingly, high tariffs were particularly damaging to the "have- 
nots," who had no Empire with which to make agreements of the 
"Ottawa" type. Table IV, above, indicates that Germany's tariffs 
were relatively low. The discrimination against Germany and the 
consequent international friction are more clearly indicated by 
figures of tariffs on essential exports of the countries concerned: 

V. Tariff Levels Against Important German Exports 
("A" are agrarian products, "B" are semi-manufactured goods, "C" are 

finished goods) 
A B 

Country 1913 1927 1931 ^9^3 ^9^7 ^93^ 

England . . 
France . . 49.5-56.0 23.3-27.7 121. 0-132.0 16.3-24.6 8.7-14.5 9.0-15.5 

Italy 12. 8-17.3 18.9-39.0 26.8-55.0 


Country 1913 ^9^7 ^93^ 

England . . free 32.7-35.0 31.5-39.0 

France , . . 12.0-18.2 20.6-42.0 22.5-50.0 

Italy 12.7-14.4 22.2-31.0 29.5-45.0 





7-2- 8.3 






1 1.2-22.0 

1 2.0-24. 1 



VI. Tariff Levels Against French Exports 

Country 1913 ^9^7 ^93^ 

Belgium . . 
Gt. Britain 
Germany . 31.0-35.0 26.0-35.3 30.3-34.3 


Country 1913 1927 1931 

Belgium , . 9.1-10.4 12.6-19.2 12.6-20.3 
Gt. Britain. free 42.3 52.0 

Germany . 

VII. Tariff Levels Against English Exports 


Country 1913 ^9^7 ^93^ 

Germany . 12.0-16.7 9.0-15.0 11.1-19.0 

France . . . 12.3-32.3 8.8-27.3 10.2-36.4 

Belgium 4.6- 8.3 2.6- 5.2 3.4- 6.9 

These figures are from Liepmann's "Tariff Levels and the Eco- 
nomic Unity of Europe." Where there are blanks, the implication is 
not that there were no tariffs, but rather that it w^as impossible to 
make a satisfactory estimate. 

The discrimination did not end with 1931. Quite apart from the 
development of Empire trade, England and France adopted tariff 
measures which, according to Dr. Schacht, were "specifically directed 
against Germany" or "calculated materially to obstruct exportation 
from Germany."-^^ Here are a few examples : 

Great Britain: 
December, 1931: Duty of 50% ad valorem on numerous finished 

March, 1932: Duty of 10% on almost all imported goods 
February, 1933: Raising of duty on iron and steel wire 
April, 1934: Raising of duty on electric arc-light carbons 
May, 1934: Raising of duty on glassware 


April, 1932: Raising of turnover tax on imports 

1933: Other tariff engagements cancelled and duties on various 

German exports raised 
Spring, 1934: More tariff engagements cancelled and duties 

raised on German exports 

It is possible that the degree of discrimination against Germany has 

■^^ Address before International Conference for Agrarian Science at Bad 
Eilsen, 1934. 


been exaggerated in the German mind. So far as international fric- 
tion is concerned, however, there was sufficient evidence of discrimi- 
nation for the German government to make out a good case to its 
own people. 

z. Qtiotas 

The quota system originated in France in May 1931, chiefly to 
give protection to French agriculture. From 1927 to 1931 the French 
balance of trade grew increasingly unfavorable, food imports show- 
ing a marked growth. Agricultural interests began to protest that 
even the already high tariff wall was not adequate to protect them 
from the "flood of imports." Theoretically, the situation could have 
been met by raising tariffs still higher. However, during the 'twenties 
the tendency was to fix tariff rates by mutual agreements with the 
countries concerned. Upward revision of the rates would therefore 
have involved tedious negotiation of new agreements, with higher 
rates against French exports. Moreover, it was felt that during a 
period of rapidly falHng prices, such as that following 1929, no 
poHtically possible tariff would keep out foreign products and main- 
tain French prices; every time the price at which foreign goods were 
offered fell, the tariff would have to be raised. Better to limit imports 
once and for all. Finally, there is evidence that some French politi- 
cians actually believed that whereas tariffs tended to raise prices to 
the French consumer, a quota would not have that undesirable 

By the end of 1931, the quota system had been extended to most 
food products which were produced in France. During 1932, it was 
applied also to manufactured goods. By the beginning of 1934, some 
3,000 articles or classes of goods were subject to quotas. In March, 
1934, certain raw materials were also brought into the system. 

At first the quotas applied to the whole world, merely stating the 
total amount that could be imported within a given period, usually 
three months. With the announcement of these "global quotas," 
there was a rush to the French border with the commodity in ques- 

^^ Cf. Heinrich Heuser, Control of Internatiotial Trade, Routledge, London, 
1939, P- 53- 


tion. Such a system clearly gave advantages to foreign producers 
vi^ho happened to be nearest to the border. It also resulted in heavy 
importations within a short period, leading to disorganization of the 
French markets, much to the disadvantage of the French producer. 
Because of the lag in reporting the volume of imports, the quota was 
usually exceeded by the time the period was over. In the last quarter 
of 1931 the cattle quota was exceeded by (^(P/o, pigs by 100%. Im- 
ports of a certain type of glue in the first quarter of 1932 were 20,888 
quintals, while the quota was only 4,460 quintals.^^ The result of 
these excesses of imports over quotas was that the borders were 
closed completely for the succeeding period, thus cutting off alto- 
gether the business of French import firms. 

To overcome these difficulties, the system of apportioning im- 
ports among the various producing countries was adopted. The divi- 
sion was usually based upon the share in imports over some previous 
period. This system may result in unfair and uneconomic distribu- 
tion of import quotas because of peculiar conditions existing in 
certain countries during a base year. For example, one country found 
its share of the quota on live animals very small for the simple reason 
that in one of the base years its exports had been abnormally reduced 
by sanitary precautions of the importing country. Also, this system 
provides no basis for adjustment to changing conditions of demand 
for and supply of the commodity in question, whether the changes 
take place in the exporting or in the importing country. A tariff 
system, bad though it may be, still permits some adjustment to such 
dynamic changes. 

The problem arises of apportioning the import rights among cer- 
tain importing or exporting firms. This task has usually been left to 
groups of business men dealing in the commodity concerned. The 
possession of a licence puts the importer or exporter concerned in a 
monopolistic position. The French import price of Gorgonzola 
cheese fell from 9.50 lire per kilo when the Italian exporter held the 
Hcence, to 3.50 when the French importer held the licence. A tarifl 
never permits a complete monopoly of domestic sales, even if do- 
mestic producers combine, since the domestic price cannot be raised 

" Ibid., p. 83. 


above the foreign price plus tariff. An import quota, however, makes 
the domestic price entirely independent of the foreign price — except, 
of course, that the importer will not sell at a price lower than that 
which he must pay the foreign producer to supply the amount per- 
mitted by the quota. Thus quotas greatly faciUtate formation of 
strong producers' monopolies, which is nice for the producers but 
hard on the public. 

The monopoly profits arising out of possession of licences are indi- 
cated by the price importers are willing to pay for licences. One 
Swiss fruit importer who had no licence paid the owner of a permit 
4,000-6,000 francs annually for the import rights, so that the holder 
of the permit found that he could retire comfortably. In Italy a 
highly organized market for licences developed. Often the holder of 
a permit would hold it for higher bids, so that the licences were not 
fully used during the period. 

The introduction of quotas in France led to reprisals by other 
countries. The first to retaliate was Italy, in December, 1931. Quotas 
were imposed on items of comparatively little importance in Italy's 
domestic production, but liable to affect French exports adversely: 
wines, liqueurs, perfumes, soaps, etc., from France. The French 
replied with quotas against Italian fruit and vegetables in July, 1932. 
In the same month, Italy added automobiles, clothing, and certain 
luxury goods to her list. In June, 1933, France reduced the quotas 
for Italian meat and cheese, and within a week Italy retaliated with 
restrictions on French cotton yarn, lace, machinery, and other prod- 
ucts. Japan imposed quota restrictions in December, 1931; Great 
Britain in January, 1933; United States in January, 1934; Germany 
in January, 1934; British colonies in August, 1934. Thus any relative 
advantage that France may have gained by import quotas quickly 

There can be little doubt that on the whole import quotas reduced 
trade more than mere tariff policy could have done. It is also clear that 
import quotas raise prices above the level that would rule in their 
absence. In a period of generally falling prices, this effect shows as 
a relatively small decline in prices of the import-quota countries, 
even as compared with exchange-control countries : 


Percentage Reductions in Value of Cost of Living Indices, 

Quota Countries Exchange Control "Free" Countries 

France 7% Germany . . . 21.4% England 47% 

Italy 21.5 Hungary . . . 47.0 U.S.A 53 

Belgium .... 20.7 Austria 25.0 Japan 68 

Figures of general production do not give any clear-cut result as 
to the effects of import quotas on domestic output. There are some 
cases v\^here the quota seems to have resulted in substantial increases 
in domestic production, such as French butter. French radio manu- 
facturers added 3,000 employees in one year after the introduction 
of quota restrictions in January, 1932. Since that year was one of 
generally deepening depression, it is fair to assume that this increase 
resulted largely from the quota. Against these increases in output of 
protected commodities must be weighed the reduction in output of 
export goods owing to retaliatory measures by other countries. Not 
only the limitation of imports, but the increased uncertainty in view 
of the possibility of sudden change in quota allowances, tends to 
discourage production for export. 

The effect of quotas on the balance of trade is likewise difficult to 
determine statistically, since the institution of quota schemes was 
far from being the only development of importance after 1931. 
France succeeded in reversing the trend in agricultural imports 
after 1931, but agricultural exports fell to just about the same degree. 
The French balance of trade in general, it is true, became much less 
unfavorable after 1931. In the case of Italy, the balance of trade be- 
came more and more unfavorable right up to 1935, when it was still 
considerably more unfavorable than in 1931. 

On the whole, it seems Hkely that retaliatory action has prevented 
any one country from getting very much benefit from a system of 
import quotas. The chief effect of the system has been a reduction 
in the total volume of world trade. 

5. Exchange Control 

Isolated instances of exchange control can be found in the nine- 
teenth century, and it became a general practice during the World 
War. Only since 1931, however, has it become a major weapon of 


economic warfare. Germany adopted it in that year. Czechoslovakia, 
Denmark, and Hungary followed in January, 1932, and Austria in 
May, 1932. Since then Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Italy, 
Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Rumania, and Yugoslavia have followed 
suit. With the outbreak of war, those belligerents who previously 
had no exchange control introduced it in some form or another. 

Exchange control fixes the amount of foreign exchange made 
available for the purchase of foreign goods and securities. Foreign 
exchange is normally purchased from banks. The banks get it 
through transfers made by foreigners in payment for goods or se- 
curities bought from the country concerned, or by themselves trans- 
ferring balances to foreign banks to buy foreign exchange. Thus 
exchange control involves fixing the total value of foreign bills of 
exchange that can be sold by the banks in a given period. Either all 
banks must sell their gold and foreign exchange to the central bank, 
or a limited number of them can deal in foreign exchange under 
governmental supervision and control. 

In general, the purpose of exchange control is to maintain the 
value of the currency. It was undertaken only by countries who 
wanted to stay on the gold standard at the old rate. The reasons for 
doing so rather than devaluing have been discussed above. In some 
cases, such as Germany and Austria, the gold reserves were so low by 
1931 that some sort of control was necessary if the currency was to 
remain stable. In other cases, such as Denmark, Latvia, and Finland, 
exchange control was introduced with gold reserves over 50% of 
note circulation. Here there was no danger of exhaustion of gold 
reserves; and exchange control seems to have been introduced to 
give protection to certain industries under the guise of protecting 
the value of the currency. 

There is no need for exchange control unless the balance of pay- 
ments is unfavorable; for only then will demand for foreign ex- 
change exceed the supply at the current rate, tending to force up 
its value in terms of the domestic currency. An unfavorable balance 
of payments may result from an import surplus; or, if exports bal- 
ance imports, it may result from a "flight of capital." Exchange 
control may be used to check either an unfavorable trade balance, 
as was the case with Denmark, Hungary, and Bulgaria, or it may be 


used to check a flight of capital, as was originally the case with Ger- 
many. Sooner or later all countries instituting exchange control 
used it to check imports — if for no other reason than that it is 
possible to disguise capital transfers as imports by applying for more 
foreign exchange than is actually needed for payment. 

Centralization and monopolization of the supplies of foreign ex- 
change were not the only devices used to control purchases. The 
export of actual currency had also to be restricted; otherwise people 
wanting to convert domestic into foreign holdings would withdraw 
notes from the banks, send them across the border, and there ex- 
change them for foreign currencies. Purchase of foreign securities 
has been absolutely forbidden by all countries introducing exchange 
control. The withdrawal of foreign short-term credits has also been 
restricted. To prevent transfers of capital by "seUing" interests to 
foreigners against whom there were less severe restrictions, all trans- 
actions between citizens and foreigners had to be regulated. The 
proceeds of sales by foreigners of, say, German property were desig- 
nated by the German authorities as "blocked accounts"; that is, the 
funds could not be transferred to the country of the seller, but had to 
be spent in Germany. Repayments of loans from foreigners received 
similar treatment in some cases. In addition to these limitations of 
demand for foreign exchange, there were various devices for in- 
creasing the supply of foreign exchange. Individuals as well as banks 
were forced to deliver all supplies of foreign exchange to the central 
banks. Germany and Italy even went so far as to appropriate foreign 
securities and otherwise to enforce "repatriation" of capital. 

The general effect of exchange control is to keep the price of 
foreign currencies artificially low. The demand for foreign exchange 
persistently exceeds the supply of it at the official price. Under such 
conditions, evasion is inevitable. A "black bourse" where foreign 
exchange in excess of the amounts made available by the central 
bank can be bought illegally at high prices has made its appearance 
in every country where exchange control has played a significant 
part. The smuggling of notes across borders cannot be entirely pre- 
vented. Foreign securities are still being sold to exchange-control 
countries — although in greatly reduced proportions. Imports nearly 


always exceed in value the amount of exchange officially allotted 
for them. 

Prevention of evasion is not the only administrative difficulty. The 
decision as to how the available exchange shall be distributed — 
among commodities, among firms, and among sources of supply — 
is a weighty one. In most countries some attempt to rank commodi- 
ties in order of "necessity" has been made. Nearly all countries also 
discriminate according to source of supply; exchange control is an 
excellent weapon for the purpose of damaging the export trade of 
particular countries. The problem of the "base year" in apportioning 
exchange among either goods or countries presents the same difficul- 
ties as in the case of the import quota. 

The exchange clearing system, which Heuser calls "a limited 
reversion to common sense," grew up out of such administrative 
difficulties. Essentially, "clearings" were a device for organizing 
payments for imports in such a way that funds used to pay for 
imports could be used immediately by foreigners to pay for exports. 
Sometimes sums due domestic exporters were "blocked" at the same 
time that domestic importers were unable to obtain enough foreign 
exchange to pay for goods received. Under such conditions, it seemed 
natural to use the amounts due domestic exporters to pay off the 
foreign exporters. In other cases, it was found that two countries 
were restricting each other's imports because of a shortage of ex- 
change, and arrangements were made for direct exchange of goods 
and cancellation of debts. 

The imposition of exchange control usually led in the short run to 
an increase in imports. Fear of being unable to get foreign goods 
resulted in a rush to stock up on them as much as possible, as indi- 
cated by figures of inventories. In the long run, however, exchange 
control undoubtedly reduced imports. The extent to which applica- 
tions for foreign exchange exceeded the amounts allowed is an indi- 
cation of the degree of import restriction. In Germany, only about 
20% of the demands for food and raw materials was satisfied. One 
Austrian egg importer applied for $3,000 and received $40! 

The influence of exchange control on prices and production is 
difficult to estimate statistically because in no case was it the sole 
factor operating. There seems little doubt that the limitations of im- 


ports in general raised prices in general; reduced importations of 
some goods led to increased demands for substitutes and so to a rise 
in their prices. Where previously there was competition in the sale 
of imports, exchange control tended to set up monopolistic positions 
for importers. The table on page 164 above suggests that prices in 
exchange-control countries fell less on the average than in "free" 
countries — that is, countries relying largely on tariffs for control of 
international trade. Attempts at price-fixing, rationing of goods, and 
prohibition of trade in licenses to import did not succeed in prevent- 
ing a price rise. There are a few clear cases of an increase in domestic 
production owing to the protection afforded by exchange control, 
such as Austrian textiles; but even here the original increase was not 
maintained. Restrictions on importation of raw materials prevented 
maintenance of output of finished goods. As the system was gradu- 
ally extended to more and more commodities and prices of other 
commodities rose, the amount of income available for purchase of 
the protected commodities was reduced, and so demand fell off. 
Moreover, retaliation by other countries led to reduction of exports. 
As in the case of quotas, it would seem that the net result of the 
system of exchange control as a whole was a further reduction in the 
volume of foreign trade. In the short run certain advantages may 
have been gained by the countries first introducing the system; but 
as the system spread to other countries and exports fell off these 
advantages disappeared. The general uncertainty which the system 
produced, in view of the day to day changes in allotments of foreign 
exchange for particular purposes, made foreign trade a risky busi- 
ness which few were willing to conduct on a large scale. On the 
whole, the system would seem to have deepened and prolonged the 

4. Currency Devaluation 

The purpose of currency devaluation is to improve the balance 
of trade. If, for example, the value of the pound is reduced from 
$5 to $4, the price of a bottle of Scotch whiskey quoted at ^^i/o/o 
falls accordingly for American buyers. At the same time, the price 
of a bottle of Bourbon quoted at $3 rises from 12 shillings to 15 for 


an Englishman. Thus the devaluation encourages purchases by for- 
eigners and discourages purchases from foreigners. 

When countries are on the gold standard, the relative values of 
their currencies are determined by the relative amounts of gold the 
currency units represent. The pre-war British pound represented 
113. grains of pure gold, the American dollar 23.22; the exchange 
rate was I4.86 for £1. Currency depreciation can be attained in two 
ways. One way is to depart from the gold standard, which means 
that gold is no longer shipped to cover foreign balances, and that 
the currency is allowed to fluctuate according to the demand for and 
supply of it. If the trade balance is unfavorable (and otherwise, why 
devalue?) the domestic currency will depreciate in terms of foreign 
currencies. Left to itself, the currency will depreciate until the trade 
balance is no longer unfavorable; that is, until the supply of foreign 
exchange equals the demand at the ruling rate. This method was 
adopted by all European participants in the World War, and by the 
"sterling bloc" after 1931. 

The second method is to reduce the amount of gold which the 
currency unit represents. Provided other currencies continue to rep- 
resent the same amount of gold, such a reduction of the gold content 
reduces the value of the currency in terms of other currencies. This 
device was employed by the United States in the spring of 1934, 
and by France, Italy, Belgium, Holland, and Switzerland in the fall 
of 1936. 

Competitive devaluation has played so important a role in the 
economic war since 1918 that it is worth going into it in more detail 
and considering the reasons and effects of its use by the major 
countries that have tried this means of gaining trade advantages. 

England. England's part in the history of currency depreciation 
is of especial significance. In order to conserve her gold reserves, she 
abandoned the gold standard immediately upon the outbreak of war 
in 1914, along with the other belligerent countries. When the war 
was over, the question of returning to the gold standard in order to 
lend stability to international finance came to the fore. Partly from 
a misguided sense of national honor, partly in order to give an 
impression of financial strength, partly out of consideration for bond- 
holders, and partly from a desire to maintain the foreign exchange 


value o£ debts owed by foreigners in terms of pounds, it was decided 
to return to gold at the old pre-war rate. 

It is evident now that the choice of the old rate rather than a 
lower one was a disastrous mistake. At I4.86 to the pound, EngHsh 
goods were simply too expensive for foreigners to buy; while for- 
eign goods were relatively cheap for Englishmen to buy. The situa- 
tion would have been remedied by a rise of foreign prices, especially 
American prices; but rapid improvement in technique prevented 
this development. It could have been remedied by a drop in English 
prices; and, indeed, EngHsh prices were under constant pressure. 
However, English costs proved to be extremely rigid. Wage rates 
could not be reduced because of strong opposition from trade unions 
whose leaders either did not know or did not care that lower wage 
rates would have made possible so great an increase in employment 
as to raise the total wage bill. Rents and interest tend to be fixed 
contractually and cannot be quickly revised. Consequently, no sub- 
stantial cut in prices was possible if English businessmen were to 
make profits at all. 

England never had a boom during the 'twenties. Unemployment 
continued at a high figure, trade was unfavorable, the exchange rate 
tended constantly towards the gold export point. Having expanded 
less than in other countries, domestic production contracted less 
than in other countries during the first year of depression. But deep- 
ening depression abroad had serious repercussions in England. In- 
come from overseas investment fell off; exports were cut in half 
by 1931; shipping receipts were less than half their 1929 level in 1931. 
The drain on England's gold reserves imperilled the Gold Standard. 

The danger was aggravated by the large amounts of "hot money" 
on deposit with the Bank of England by foreign central banks. A 
run on these deposits might threaten the very solvency of the bank. 
With the failure of the Credit-Anstalt and the subsequent runs on 
other continental banks, these deposits began to be withdrawn. 
When all German banks but the Reichsbank closed their doors, both 
EngHshmen and foreigners who held assets in sterling began to fear 
for their safety. Could the Bank of England hold out? Would Eng- 
land be forced off the Gold Standard again? Uncertainty as to the 
answers led to a "flight from the pound," raising the rates on foreign 


exchange to the gold point and leading to still further drains on 
gold. In September, 1931, the Bank of England rescinded its under- 
taking to pay gold on demand. 

The pound fell rapidly. By December, 1931, it was down to $3.37. 
A year later it stood at I3.27. The pressure on England was relieved. 
True, the fall in the pound made raw-materials prices higher in 
terms of shillings; but the precipitous fall in agricultural prices and 
devaluation by the Dominions made prices in shillings lower than 
in 1929. There can be little doubt that the depreciation of the pound 
eased the British situation materially. With the English pound, 
certain allied currencies also depreciated, such as the Swedish kroner 
and the AustraUan pound. There is good reason to suppose that the 
much-publicized recoveries of these two countries, insofar as they 
were owing to policy and not to extraneous factors such as rising 
prices of important exports, resulted largely from this depreciation in 
their currencies and consequent improvement of their export trade.^^ 
The South African pound, the Canadian dollar, and the Japanese 
yen, also closely related to sterling, followed after short lags. Ger- 
many, while remaining officially on the gold standard, obtained 
much of the advantage of depreciation by setting up dozens of 
different kinds of marks which could be bought at varying prices 
below the price of the gold mark. As the devaluation spread, the 
relative advantage gained by England was of course wiped out. 

United States. In the fall of 1932, partly owing to the action of 
the Reconstruction Finance Corporation in making public the names 
of concerns to whom it was giving financial aid, a series of runs on 
American banks began. Before the panic was arrested by President 
Roosevelt's banking holiday of March 6 to 9, 1933, thousands of 
banks all over the country had failed, and nearly all had closed their 
doors at least temporarily. During the panic, the Federal Reserve 
Banks suffered a considerable drain on their reserves; the ratio of 
reserves to deposits fell from 65.6% in February to 45.1% in March. 
The American banking system was exposed to no serious danger 
so far as possible external pressure was concerned; but the President 
had plans for recovery which would be faciHtated by departure from 

^^ C£. the author's article "Planning for Recovery in Sweden and Australia," 
Quar. Rev. of Commerce, Vol. IV, Nos. 3, 4. 


gold. The banking panic provided an excuse the pubUc could accept. 
In June the United States went finally and completely off the gold 
standard. At the World Economic Conference meeting that same 
month, attempts at international currency stabilization were frus- 
trated by the refusal of the President to co-operate. He was not yet 
ready for such stabilization. 

In January, 1934, the dollar was fixed at 13.71 grains of fine gold; 
America had returned to the gold standard. The announced object 
of the devaluation was to restore the American price index to the 
1926 level. This was to be accomplished in part by the improvement 
in foreign trade that would result from the depreciation of the dollar 
in terms of other currencies. In part it was to follow from the inter- 
nal expansion which devaluation would permit. It is not clear that 
the expected internal result was obtained; it could be argued that 
the uncertainty resulting from devaluation and the accompanying 
N.R.A. codes led to an actual reduction in the flow of money income. 
It can scarcely be denied that the devaluation led to an improved 
trade balance, and to an unprecedented influx of gold. 

Nor can it be seriously questioned that the American devaluation 
imposed new hardships on other countries, especially those still cling- 
ing hopefully to the old gold standard. The pound rose from $3.42 
in February, 1933, to $5.04 in 1934. In the same period, the franc rose 
from 3.92 cents to 6.21 cents. The value of the mark also rose by 
nearly 100% in terms of cents. Prices of British, German, and French 
goods in terms of dollars rose accordingly, and exports to America 
were drastically reduced. True, Great Britain had a stabihzation 
fund with which to buy dollars in an attempt to prevent an undue 
rise in the pound ; but the United States also had a stabilization fund. 
In effect. Great Britain could maintain an artificially low value of 
the pound only with the assent of the American Treasury. In the 
last two years it was agreed to stabilize the pound at about I4.90, 
until with the outbreak of the War of 1939 the pound was allowed 
to drop to I4.00. 

France. At the beginning of the first World War, the par value 
of the French franc was 19.3 cents. When France left the gold stand- 
ard in 1914, the franc gradually fell to 16.5 cents in 1916, and then it 
was pegged at 17 cents with the aid of $3,000,000,000 of loans from 


the United States. When this artificial support was removed in 1919, 
the franc fell erratically until in 1926 it was worth only 2 cents. After 
the war, France had embarked upon a deluge of extravagant spending 
on the erroneous assumption that "Germany would pay for every- 
thing." Moreover, the wartime currency inflation was continued 
until at its peak in 1926, prices were over eight times their pre-war 
level. By 1926 it was clear that no gigantic sums were forthcoming 
from Germany, and in that year Poincare succeeded in balancing 
the budget and calling a halt to the inflation. Consequently, the franc 
rose to nearly 4 cents, and remained there for two years, during 
which time the Treasury built up a surplus. In 1928, France returned 
to the gold standard with the franc at 3.92 cents. 

The franc at this level was somewhat undervalued and France 
enjoyed two years of great prosperity. The contrast with England's 
situation, where the currency unit was overvalued, is striking. Even 
the crisis of 1929 did not immediately undermine the French eco- 
nomic situation. Not until well into 1931 was there any significant 
drop in French prices, output, or employment. But during that year 
the inevitable repercussions of world depression began to make them- 
selves felt. In 1932 the French budget began to show deficits again. 
In itself an unbalanced budget is of no moment, and if it represents 
income-creating expenditures may even be a harbinger of returning 
prosperity; but in the French mind unbalanced budgets were asso- 
ciated with inflation, a falling franc, and instability. Confidence was 
shaken. Moreover, the Treasury's cash reserves had fallen to a very 
low level by 1932. As price levels in other countries dropped after 
1929, French exports declined markedly and the highly important 
tourist trade fell ojfif. With the wave of currency depreciation after 
1931, the trade balance became still more unfavorable. Nervous in- 
vestors began transferring their funds from France to other countries. 
The abandonment of the gold standard in 1933 by the United States 
gave temporary relief from this drain, since France was then the only 
gold-standard country still offering some degree of safety, and there 
was a repatriation of French capital and an inflow of foreign capital 
seeking some safe haven from monetary depreciation. In the long 
run, however, the devaluation of the dollar proved to be the death 


blow to the French franc, since it meant a deterioration of the bal- 
ance of trade with the United States. After the Stavisky scandal of 
1934, the last shred of confidence in the French monetary stability 
was gone. Only the enormous gold reserves which had accumulated 
since 1928 enabled France to maintain the value of her currency so 
long. Flight of capital and drain of gold assumed serious propor- 
tions in 1934, 1935, and 1936. Finally, in September, 1936, France 
made the decision to devalue — a decision that had been seen to be 
unavoidable by economists, bankers, and investors for at least two 
years. The devaluation was accomplished in stages. The initial de- 
preciation was from 6.6 to 4.6 cents. During the spring and summer 
of 1937 the franc was allowed to fall to 3.7 cents. Two years later it 
was down to 2,6 cents. The franc had succumbed to the pressure 
upon it; and its history bears out the thesis that measures to secure 
artificially favorable terms of trade on the part of one country lead 
inevitably to retaliation by other countries. 

Italy. The history of the Italian lira conforms so closely to the pat- 
tern of the previous examples that we can dispose of it quickly. The 
process of stabilization was begun by Mussolini's first finance minis- 
ter, Alberto de Stefani, who balanced the budget in 1923. The next 
step was to stop inflation and to reduce the note circulation to a level 
more closely aligned to the reserves behind it. The lira, which had 
been wavering at a level slightly over 4 cents, rose to slightly over 
5 cents in 1927; and at this level it was stabilized in December, 1927 — 
a level 27.25% of its pre-war value. Thus the depreciation was less 
than in the case of the French franc; like the British pound, the 
lira was overvalued. Consequently, exports fell off and painful 
internal adjustments of costs and prices were necessary. The world 
depression, faUing foreign prices, and depreciation of other curren- 
cies led to drastic reductions in exports and a drain on reserves, 
particularly during 1934 and 1935. In October, 1936, Italy followed 
the example of France and devalued her currency. As a result of the 
American devaluation, the lira stood at 7.8 cents in September, 1936. 
It was reduced to 5.5 cents in October and to 5.2 cents in November, 
where it has stood since. Holland, Belgium, and Switzerland also 
devalued in the fall of 1936. 


/. Production Control 

Large-scale organization to control world output and world mar- 
kets for basic commodities made its appearance before 1914. Since 
the war, however, such organization has become one of the most 
important characteristics of our economic system. Many of these 
monopolies and cartels are international in scope, so that at first 
sight they may not seem a proper topic for discussion under the 
heading "the arsenal of economic warfare." International distribu- 
tion of control, however, does not mean that these gigantic concerns 
are operated for the benefit of the whole world. They are operated 
for the benefit of the stockholders. In general, their object has been 
to restrict output and competition in order to maintain monopolistic 
prices. High prices of raw materials are particularly damaging to 
countries that cannot aflord to pay them; that is, countries which 
have relatively unfavorable markets for their finished goods. And 
not all these monopolies are truly international even in ownership. 
A complete description of all the control schemes in existence would 
fill a fat volume. All we can do here is mention some of the more 
significant schemes for control of raw materials, in order to give 
some picture of their role in economic warfare. 

One of the most important of such organizations is the Inter- 
national Nickel Company. Operating the rich mines of northern 
Ontario, it controlled 92% of the world's nickel business in 1929. 
This percentage dropped during the depression, but is once more in 
the ascendant. In 1936 its board of directors consisted of 13 Ameri- 
cans, 7 Canadians, 5 Englishmen and Scotchmen. Shares were di- 
vided as follows: United States, 43%; Canada, 20%; Great Britain, 
34%; others, 3.5%. Thus the concern is really International in name 
only. The nickel situation was clearly a cause for worry on the part 
of the "have-nots." Could there be any doubt as to what countries 
would get the nickel, so important for armaments, in the event of 
a new war.? 

A similar situation prevails with regard to copper. Copper is pro- 
duced in four areas: United States, Canada, Chile, and Africa (Bel- 
gian Congo and Rhodesia). At the end of 1918 the first step towards 
world monopoly was taken; the Copper Export Association organ- 


ized in the United States under the Webb-Pomerene Act, which had 
been passed expressly to permit combination in the export trade 
without running afoul of anti-trust laws. This Association formed a 
pool to withhold supplies from the market and so to maintain prices. 
By 1923 the war surplus was disposed of, and the pool broke up. 
In 1926 a new American combine formed, which included non- 
voting foreign associates and controlled 95% of the world output of 
refined copper. During the boom of the 'twenties this organization 
succeeded in virtually doubling the price of copper. After the crash, 
output was cut to about one-quarter of the 1929 level in order to 
bolster prices. The cartel was broken down by overexpansion and an 
American tariff which caused withdrawal of foreign producers 
from the scheme. In 1935 a new agreement for limiting production 
was reached by Chile, Rhodesia, and the Belgian Congo, while ex- 
ports from the United States were limited by a "Gentleman's 

Cotton is essentially an American monopoly. During the boom of 
the 'twenties the United States produced 57% of the world output. 
Government intervention in the field of cotton production began 
with Hoover's "Federal Farm Board," which lost $120,000,000 in its 
attempt to maintain cotton prices after 1929. Under the A.A.A. the 
Government offered cash inducements to cotton growers to reduce 
cotton acreage. This method proving ineffective, output was re- 
stricted directly by fixing sales quotas for individual growers. Con- 
tracts were made with 1,300,000 growers, cultivating 94% of the 
cotton land. Since the A.A.A. was declared unconstitutional, the 
Government has tried to restrict cotton production by offering sub- 
sidies on alternative crops. 

Wartime expansion of the petroleum industry resulted in excess 
capacity and falling prices. During the early 'twenties attempts at 
international restrictions failed owing to lack of co-operation by 
American producers. In recent years, several states have passed laws 
designed to make hmitations of output possible. Under the N.R.A. 
the Federal government attempted to cartelize the industry, but 
this effort had to be abandoned when the N.R.A. was declared un- 
constitutional. However, competition outside the American market 
has been effectively restricted by the Export Petroleum Association 


formed in 1929. Since 1931 there have been a series of world oil con- 
ferences for the purpose of reaching agreements on output. 

Before the first World War, Germany enjoyed a monopoly of 
potash production, divided between private and public ownership. 
With the accession of Alsace-Lorraine, France became a serious com- 
petitor. Since 1924, there have been a series of Franco-German agree- 
ments fixing prices and dividing markets. As competition developed 
in Spain, Russia, Poland, and Palestine, these countries were brought 
into the international cartel. 

These are but a few of the organizations formed to control world 
output of basic raw materials. The net effect is to maintain prices 
of these commodities above the competitive level. In other words, 
they increase the amounts of exports that must be sold to get enough 
funds to buy these raw materials. They increase economic strain, 
and so international tension. 

6. Self-sufficiency Programs 

Any measures designed to reduce imports are steps towards na- 
tional "self-sufficiency." In this sense, the whole movement towards 
restrictions on international trade since the World War is a trend 
towards self-sufficiency. In two important countries, however, self- 
sufficiency programs have been a conscious and significant part of 
economic policy; efforts were made to increase domestic production 
directly, as well as to limit imports. In the present international situa- 
tion Germany's bid for self-sufficiency has more direct bearing than 
Italy's, and we shall therefore begin with it and accord it more space. 


The Germans were convinced in 191 8 that it was no lack of man- 
power, military skill, inventive genius, or heroic determination 
which had cost them their expected victory, but a lack of essential 
foodstuffs and raw materials. The blockade during the Armistice, 
blamed for the death of 800,000 Germans, strengthened this con- 
viction. The Versailles Treaty, with its crushing reparations clauses, 
made an export surplus imperative. Under such conditions, it was 
only natural that the idea of making Germany independent of the 
outside world for food and raw materials should arise. During and 


after the war, steps were taken in this direction, particularly in the 
field of agriculture. In 1925 "Autarky" was one of the slogans of the 
German National Party. Schleicher's Minister of Agriculture, von 
Braun, announced officially that Germany had, by price legislation 
and extremely high tariffs, attained self-sufficiency in grains. The de- 
pletion of gold reserves to 0.5% of currency circulation during the 
financial crisis of 1931 made restriction of imports and expansion of 
domestic production imperative if Germany were to maintain the 
illusion of being on the gold standard. Nevertheless, the efforts for 
self-sufficiency were so much more intense after 1933, and the mili- 
tary aspects so much more noticeable, that the Nazi plan for autarky 
is almost different in kind from previous policies. 

The first steps in the direction of self-sufficiency taken by the 
National Socialist government were in the field of agriculture. In- 
deed, the "Corporation of Peasants" was the first brick in the build- 
ing of a Corporate State. It was estabHshed in the fall of 1933, and 
the Ministry of Agriculture was given power to fix prices, produc- 
tion, and profits at all stages of any agricultural process. At the 
head of the whole system of agricultural control is the Corporation 
of Agriculture, under the direction of the Ministry for Agri- 
culture. Its subsidiaries are based to a large extent on the wide- 
spread co-operative organizations that already existed. The Milk 
Products Manufacturing Association controls the dairy industry, 
the Association of Mills controls the grain industry, and so on. 
Each of these groups is headed by a government appointed "Reich- 
stelle" or commissary. The original function of the Reichstellen was 
to estabhsh monopolies for the control of price, much like the agri- 
cultural monopolies set up in this country. As monopolization spread 
from production to marketing, in order to "equalize demand and 
supply" at the fixed price it was found necessary to buy up surpluses, 
and to fix the amounts bought by or delivered to processors and 

The German soil and climate are better suited for grains than for 
most other agricultural products; and self-sufficiency in this field is 
relatively easy. Yet there has been a serious deficiency in German 
grain production, as indicated by rising prices and increasing im- 
ports since 1933. Nor have efforts to increase grain production been 



particularly successful. The yield per acre (or per hectare) has 
actually fallen. The following figures, taken from official German 
pubHcations, show the situation clearly: 

Year Rye 

1934-35 159-3 

1935-36 164.4 

1936-37 164.2 

1937-38 184.2 

1938-39 185.4 

Germany . . . 20.55 
World 10.41 















Avg. 1929-34 


Yield in Millions of Tons 
Bread grains 










Fodder grains 







Rye .. 
Oats . 

Yield per Hectare (Figures in double centners) 
Rye Wheat Oats 

19-4 24.3 21.8 

17.2 15.5 19.6 

Imports (in millions of Reichsmarks) 






















Maize 146-5 

The shortage of grains has called forth special measures in the last 
two years. At the beginning of 1937 an attempt was made to increase 
human consumption of rye and maize, in order to alleviate the par- 
ticularly noticeable shortage of wheat, less easy to eliminate by 


expansion of wheat production than by expansion of rye and maize 
production. The average price per ton of rye was raised by 20 RM., 
to offset the tendency for too much rye to find its way into the "pig- 
trough" and too httle into the "kneading trough." This rise in the 
official price of rye cut the span between rye and wheat prices in half, 
and was expected to lead to substitution of rye production for wheat 
production. In addition, the milling grade of flour was raised to 
include larger percentages of bran and ash, and an admixture of 7% 
maize with wheat was introduced. Finally, on and after March i, 
1937, the 75% rye flour was eliminated, and the 80% rye flour became 
the lowest milling grade. In 1938 two more grades of flour were 
dropped. In August, 1938, the milUng percentage of rye was reduced 
again; it was found that the higher percentage of rye in "rye bread" 
had resulted in diversion of consumers from "rye bread" to "rye- 
wheaten" bread, so that more instead of less wheat was being con- 
sumed. In 1938 the feeding of livestock with grain that could meet 
the lowest milling requirements was forbidden. 

Progress towards self-sufficiency in livestock has been impeded 
by scarcity of fodder, scarcity of agricultural labor — and, in the last 
two years, hoof-and-mouth disease. Hoof-and-mouth disease is not 
part and parcel of German policy; but shortage of feed and agricul- 
tural labor is inherent in the program of self-sufficiency and rearma- 
ment. The following official figures show developments in the stock 
of animals during the Nazi regime : 

Number of Head of Livestock (in thousands) 
Kind Dec. 19^8 Dec. ig^y Dec. ig^6 Dec. 79^5 Dec. ig^^ Dec. 7955 

Horses . 3,442.7 3,433-8 3,410.3 3,400. 3742-0 3,395-i 

Cattle . . 19,900.2 20,503.6 20,088.0 18,900. 19,165.4 19,713.7 

Swine . . 23,481.3 23,846.9 25,891.6 22,800. 23,125.1 23,878.5 

Sheep .. 4,809.0 4,692.3 4,340.8 3.927-7 3481.7 3,381.1 

Goats . . 2,508.9 2,630.1 2,633.5 2,500. 2,489.5 2,584.9 

Imports (in thousands of Reichsmarks) 

Kind 1938 I9S7 1936 1935 1934 1933 

Cattle 36,689 40,413 39,125 20,808 11,747 7.803 

Pigs 50.894 42,175 33,349 6,181 1,059 744 

Horses 14,022 13,430 14,265 9,369 11,743 10,356 

Various 12,427 11,458 9,588 8,798 8,782 11,936 

Meat and meat products. 92,193 79,847 86,283 54,876 41,577 36,082 


The results of the self-sufficiency program so far as livestock are 
concerned are more favorable than in the case of grains. The stock 
of horses and sheep has been increased, and the other categories are 
much the same as in 1933. However, prices of meats have risen; 
a situation in which beef costs $.75 a pound and veal $1.10 is not 
altogether satisfactory. Moreover, imports of cattle and swine have 
increased enormously since 1933, while imports of horses, "various 
livestock," and meats have increased considerably. The conclusion 
would seem to be that Germany is capable of self-sufficiency in live- 
stock if an abundant fodder supply is assured. Unfortunately, the 
program of self-sufficiency in grains is incompatible with an abun- 
dant fodder supply except in years of exceptionally good harvests. 

Although the importation of eggs has been drastically reduced, 
from RM. 78,821,000 in 1933 to 24,815,000 in 1937, it cannot be said 
that Germany is substantially more self-sufficient in eggs than before 
the Nazi regime. Eggs were one of the first commodities to become 
scarce, and they are still scarce. Early in 1936 one could hardly get 
eggs in Berlin at all; those who succeeded in buying them at the 
official price would have to buy two stale eggs with each fresh egg. 
In February, 1938, the Berlin correspondent of the Economist re- 
ports that eggs constitute the chief shortage in that city. 

So far as dairy products are concerned, the following figures speak 
for themselves: 

Imports (in thousands of Reichsmarks) 

Product ig^8 ig^y ig^6 ig^^ ig^^ ig^^ 

Milk 2,253 5,010 3,187 2,557 i'662 1,757 

Butter 121,262 115,002 97,703 86,561 73,692 83,765 

Cheese 3Ij4I4 36,724 27,601 26,787 31,436 33,716 

Margarine and 

other table fats 6,369 — 3j522 4,055 2,553 7,660 

Given an ample supply of fodder, some measure of self-sufficiency 
might be attained in dairy products. Since to some extent dairy 
farmers compete with livestock farmers for fodder, it seems unlikely 
that Germany could achieve autarky in both fields. 

Almost from the beginning of the Nazi regime, the industrial ex- 
pansion resulting from government spending policies was hampered 
by scarcity of raw materials. Increased production and decreased im- 


ports proved incompatible. The first steps towards industrial self- 
sufficiency consisted merely of restrictions of raw materials imports, 
such as cotton and rubber. The Law for Trade in Industrial Raw 
and Half-finished Materials, passed in March, 1934, was more exten- 
sive; it provided for a Reichskommissar to regulate provision, dis- 
tribution, storage, sale, and consumption of raw materials. 

In the fall of 1936, two events intensified the effort to attain inde- 
pendence of foreign supplies of raw materials. One was the devalua- 
tion of France, Italy, and the other "gold-bloc" countries, which 
reduced the demand for German exports and thus necessitated fur- 
ther restrictions of imports. The other was the announcement of the 
"Four Year Plan for Raw Materials" in Hitler's Nuremberg speech. 
At first, this "Plan" was rather vague. The "gap between import 
needs and import possibilities" was to be closed by further develop- 
ment of domestic raw materials. What precisely was to be done to 
enhance production of these commodities was not made clear. Sub- 
sequently, various kinds of orders were issued. One of the first was 
to the eflect that men's clothing must contain 15 to 25% of artificial 
or regenerated wool, and that cheese was not to contain more than 
20% cream. (Perhaps this latter order, which involved a deteriora- 
tion of domestic cheese, explains the large increase in cheese imports 
in 1937.) In November, 1936, it was decreed that textile fabrics de- 
signed for public service must contain up to 50% of artificial fibre, 
and that potato parings should be used in place of firewood. In De- 
cember the Hitler Youth were instructed to devote two days to the 
collection of beechnuts, from which a passable table oil can be ob- 
tained. Similar more or less disconnected orders have been subse- 
quently issued. For the most part, the program has been concerned 
with limitation of waste and the development of substitutes. 

In the latter field, Germany has shown great ingenuity in using 
those raw materials of which she has an abundance, especially wood 
and coal. Wood "yarn" is produced by distilling wood with hydro- 
chloric acid and forcing it through a nozzle in fine streams, produc- 
ing hairs which are woven into a wool substitute called "Wollstra." 
Uniforms contain about 30% of this material. Men make jokes about 
"spHntering" their suits, so high is the percentage of wood materials 
in them. Carpets contain a high fraction of rayon. "Jute" bags con- 


tain about 25% paper yarn; "cotton" underwear is about 15% 
celanese. Coal provides fuels, lubricants, and soap. A "Propane" gas 
for internal combustion engines is made by blowing steam over hot 
coals; a "Leuna" gasoline is made from peat; benzine, from peat and 
pit-coal. A synthetic rubber called "Buna" is in use. Many of these 
"Ersatz" materials are technically very efficient; unfortunately for 
Germany, they are much more expensive in most cases than the raw 
materials they are designed to replace. "Buna" costs six times the 
world price of rubber. Artificial gasoHne costs Germany about 500 
million marks more per year, and domestic beet sugar 550 millions 
more, than if these materials were bought on the world market. 

Attempts have also been made to increase domestic production 
of industrial raw materials, especially textiles. Flax acreage was 
enlarged during 1936 from 22,300 to over 44,000 hectares, and pro- 
duction more than doubled in that year. An enthusiastic bulletin esti- 
mates that from 1936-37, two-thirds of the German requirements 
could be met by domestic production. Hemp production also has 
been increased: during 1936 from 3600 to 5700 hectares. Despite the 
enlarged area — which must certainly have involved sacrifices else- 
where in the economy — imports of fibres nearly doubled from 1933 
to 1937, In 1938 imports were reduced, but they are still about one- 
third higher than 1933. Only cotton imports show a substantial 
decline : 

Imports (in millions of Reichmarks) 

Commodity /pjS ig^y igs6 7935 1934 1933 

Wool, animal hair. 266.7 285.2 229.4 248.1 322.6 266.2 

Fibres 99.7 112.6 81. i 86.0 69.7 65.5 

Cotton 219.0 275.1 257.7 3297 260.2 307.0 

The above facts and figures apply to the "old" Reich. However, 
inclusion of recent territorial acquisitions would not materially alter 
our estimate of the chances for success of the German self-sufficiency 
program. Austria is less self-sufficient in foodstuffs than Germany. 
While Austria is a net exporter of dairy products, most of these 
already went to Germany and the incorporation of Austria will not 
begin to eliminate scarcities in this field. Austria's chief contribution 
will be timber. Of 1.7 million tons of timber exported in 1937, only 
460 thousands went to Germany. Czechoslovakia is a net importer of 


cereals, fruits and vegetables, animals and dairy products, oils and 
fats, textile raw materials — those very things in which Germany is 
deficient as well. Czechoslovakia has timber, some iron and coal, and 
the great Skoda munitions works. Poland was approximately self- 
sufficient in foodstuffs, had export surpluses of coal, lead, potash, and 
timber, a sufficiency of petroleum and flax. However, it is not certain 
what share of these resources will fall to Germany, nor what condi- 
tions are since the German invasion. 

Thus we see that Germany's self-sufficiency program has failed to 
yield substantial increases in domestic production or substantial de- 
creases in imports of foodstuffs and raw materials. Since the import 
figures given above are in value terms, it may be well to support 
them with quantity figures, to be sure our changes in import figures 
do not indicate price changes alone. The following are official figures 
of average monthly imports in thousands of metric tons: 

^933 1934 1935 193^ 1937 1938 

Food 37 40 31 43 74 73-25 

Raw materials. 244 315 355 379 320 442.5 

The drive for autarky has imposed considerable hardship upon 
consumers. Certain goods, such as butter and lard, became scarce as 
early as 1934. From then until 1936 conditions grew progressively 
worse. Evasion of official regulations became widespread. For ex- 
ample, dealers who were afraid to pay more than the official prices, 
would induce farmers to sell by simultaneously buying from them 
unmarketable rubbish at fancy prices. In turn, dealers would sell 
scarce commodities at official prices only to customers who would 
buy unregulated commodities at absurdly high prices. A "Black 
Bourse" in food developed. Queues for rationed commodities grew 
longer, less patient. Public unrest became obvious. Accordingly, the 
Government dismissed two directors of the Reich Board of Animals 
and Animal Products, loudly bewailed the shortage of foreign ex- 
change, proclaimed in one breath that "freedom is more important 
than food" and that the scarcity was the result of "Manchester 

In 1936, when conditions did not improve and the rations card 
system had to be extended, the official explanation became more 
realistic. The shortage was attributed to rearmament, and was there- 


fore a "sacrifice for freedom." Gobbels made his famous speech at 
BerHn (January 17) in which he said "We can well do without 
butter, but not without guns, because butter would not help us if 
we were to be attacked one day." The population was advised to eat 
more fish and urged to give up consumption of the scarce commodi- 
ties. The "famine Sundays" were instituted. In December the pres- 
sure brought to bear upon the peasants was increased by the declara- 
tion that cases under the "Law vs. Economic Sabotage" would be 
tried by the "People's Courts," a definitely Nazi organization. 
Goring made a speech saying that he had lost many pounds, why 
couldn't all loyal Germans do likewise? The veto on price rises 
became ineffective. One cannot easily enforce a law which the whole 
population wants to break. 

Since 1936 the situation does not seem to have changed signifi- 
cantly. Scarcities still exist but are confined to much the same com- 
modities as in 1935. Vegetables, fruit, eggs, and butter are difficult 
to obtain. Housewives may wait a long time in line, and then be 
asked to buy things they don't want in addition to the things they 
do want. This device has now been declared illegal, but is clearly not 
a practice easy to check. 

The official cost of living index shows a rise of only 6% since 
1933, and the index of production of consumption goods rose from 
91.8 in June, 1933, to 112.0 in March, 1938. Such estimates take no 
account of deterioration in quality, discrepancies between official 
and actual prices, or inability to get certain commodities at all at 
official prices. Also, it is difficult to attach meaning to a consumption 
index which includes textiles for army uniforms and other items of 
military equipment. The International Labor Office estimates that 
industrial money wage rates have not risen, while real wage rates 
have declined since 1933. The fact that payrolls have increased by 
54% from 1932 to 1937 and retail turnover has increased only 32% 
is another indication that real wage rates have fallen. Foodstuffs con- 
stituted 8% of national income in 1928, 7% in 1932, and only 4% 
in 1936. Even calculated from official German figures, with incomes 
estimated in 1926 prices, real income per employee shows a decline 
from RM. 2,685.2 in 1932 to RM. 1,884.4 ^^ iPS^- 

The German program for self-sufficiency has been accompanied 


by the elimination o£ unemployment and a tremendous improve- 
ment in German military preparedness. It is not certain that these 
ends could not have been accomplished equally well without those 
measures which aimed specifically at autarky. In every other re- 
spect, the program must be accounted a failure. Yet from the point 
of view of other countries, who would have liked to export more to 
Germany than the self-sufficiency program permitted, it was dis- 
tinctly damaging. The most obvious effect is the same as the effect 
of the other instruments of economic warfare : it reduced the volume 
of world trade. 


Italy's first major move towards self-sufficiency was reclamation 
of land. A good 7% of Italy's area is swampy. About one-fifth of 
this land has already been reclaimed, and the rest is in the process of 
drainage. Roads and aqueducts are being built to facilitate cultiva- 
tion. While similar projects were undertaken before the Fascist 
regime, Mussolini has spent nearly three times as much as all pre- 
vious Italian governments. 

Another front in the self-sufficiency campaign is the "Battaglio 
del Grano" — the battle of wheat. Agricultural research and educa- 
tion, prize competitions, mechanization, have succeeded in raising 
the yield per hectare by more than 50% over the 1920-22 average. Net 
imports of wheat have been cut to about 10% of the pre-war figure. 

The drive for self-sufficiency was greatly intensified during the 
Ethiopian campaign. Under League of Nations sanctions, 52 na- 
tions closed their markets to Italian goods. Reductions of imports 
into Italy were therefore imperative. After November, 1935, only 
essential goods were admitted, and imports from sanctionist coun- 
tries were virtually prohibited. So successful was the policy of im- 
port restriction that during part of the period of sanctions Italy's 
balance of trade actually improved. 

As in Germany, efforts were made to develop raw-materials sub- 
stitutes. One of the most spectacular of these was "Lanital," a textile 
fibre made from the casein in skimmed milk. Cellulose and paper 
were produced from straw. Rayon and hemp were substituted for 
wool, cotton, and jute. Alcohol distilled from domestic products and 


mixed with gasoline proved to be a satisfactory motor fuel. Castor 
oil was used as a lubricant in internal-combustion engines. 

Attempts to eliminate waste and conserve scarce goods were also 
made. Scrap iron, lead, and copper were diligently collected, re- 
melted, and used again. Two "meatless days" per week were ordered, 
when no meat could be sold. Gasoline prices were raised to reduce 
private consumption. 

The Ethiopian campaign itself, insofar as it was really directed 
towards procurement of markets and raw materials, might be re- 
garded as part of the drive for autarky. With the successful termina- 
tion of the Ethiopian war and the devaluation of the lira, the drive 
for self-sufficiency relented somewhat. In an endeavor to prevent an 
undue rise in cost of hving, restrictions on importation of food- 
stuffs and raw materials were relaxed. Since increased exports fol- 
lowed devaluation, this course could be followed without danger to 
financial stabiUty. 

Italy's self-sufficiency program, then, was less rigorous and less 
persistent than Germany's. On the face of it, it would seem to have 
been more successful. But reclamation projects, increased agricul- 
tural production, development of substitutes, the Ethiopian cam- 
paign — these were expensive undertakings. As for their net effect, 
W. G. Welk concludes his excellent study of Fascist Economic Pol- 
icy as follows: "While, then, the leading economic policies adopted 
by the Fascist regime may have served to increase the country's eco- 
nomic independence and political prestige, they cannot be said, so 
far at least, to have contributed to her economic advancement or to 
an increase in the economic well-being of the Italian people."^^ 


The foregoing discussion is hopelessly inadequate as a description 
of post-war economic developments. We have ignored completely 
the German export subsidies; the "Buy British," "Preferite il Pro- 
dotto Italiano," and similar campaigns to foster purchases in the 
home market; propaganda of the sort that proved so effective in 
achieving a boycott on Japanese goods in this country; and other 
more subtle instruments of economic warfare. Still, we should now 

^^ Harvard University Press, 1938, p. 249. 


have a general picture of the post-war trend in international eco- 
nomic relationships. 

Let us attempt to weave together the threads of our argument into 
a composite whole. We began by pointing out that certain coun- 
tries, notably Germany, Italy, and Japan, are relatively poor in raw 
materials. We argued that if freedom of trade and immigration pre- 
vailed, this situation would give no real basis for international con- 
flict; but in a protectionist world, the maldistribution of the world's 
wealth constitutes a real grievance for the "have-nots." 

We went on to show that the Versailles Treaty aggravated this 
grievance, particularly for Germany, but also for Italy. 

We then demonstrated that since 1918 a whole arsenal of economic 
devices for fostering domestic prosperity "at the expense of the for- 
eigner" was thrown into action. We saw that in fact these devices 
did not succeed in promoting the economic welfare of the countries 
imposing them. They were successful only in injuring the foreigner. 
Without exception, they injured some groups within the country. 
Without exception, they prompted retaliatory measures from other 
countries. Trade restrictions are like snowballs hurding down a hill- 
side; they gather weight from their own momentum. Reduced im- 
ports into country A lead to reduced imports into other countries, 
therefore to reduced exports from country A and still further restric- 
tions on imports into A. Economic independence breeds economic 

All the instruments of economic warfare that we examined ex- 
hibited two striking common characteristics: (i) They served to 
reduce the volume of trade. In 1937 industrial production in most of 
the countries of importance in international affairs was somewhere 
around the 1929 level; but the volume of international trade was only 
one-third of the 1929 level. (2) For the promotion of internal pros- 
perity they proved to be failures. 

The first result of the restrictionist movement was particularly 
damaging to the "have-nots," since in their case there was no empire 
to which to turn. Under the conditions that grew up from 191 8 to 
1939, the demands of the "have-nots" for markets and access to raw 
materials had some justification. Nor were the "have-nots" slow to 


blame internal difficulties upon the malice of the other nations. The 
"shortage of foreign exchange" was the stock explanation of scarci- 
ties of foods and raw materials, an explanation that placed the onus 
in some vague way upon the foreigner. This official attitude was not 
calculated to foster international good will. 

However, the public was not completely fooled. They were aware 
of the second result of the economic war. It was protests of business 
men within the countries imposing exchange control that led to ex- 
change clearings and other forms of relaxation of the system. Antipa- 
thy to import quotas is typified by the resignation of the entire 
municipal government of Calais in 1933 as a protest against the 
French quota system, which ruined its business as a port directly 
and its lace industry indirectly through retaliation of other countries. 
(The French government met this protest with an order to all State 
schools to buy lace curtains!) In Italy there is such complete lack of 
freedom of thought that no serious opposition to government policy 
is expressed; one can detect only the murmurings heard in any coun- 
try. In Germany, the duress of the self-sufficiency program seems to 
be borne with resignation and grim humor. To the question, "Wie 
geht es?" people answer, "Danke schon, besser als im nachsten 
Jahr!" "Ha Bu.?" (Haben Sie Butter?) replaces "Heil Hitler" as a 
greeting. But there is evidence enough that the public would main- 
tain this attitude only so long as they felt the end justified the 

This, then, was the situation in 1939: a vicious circle of restrictions 
on foreign trade, particularly painful to the "have-nots"; and a 
mounting rumble of discontent over the failure of the restrictionist 
policy to produce an abundant and permanent prosperity. In a word, 
the economic war had reached an impasse. The various governments 
were faced with two alternatives. They could confess the error of 
their ways, turn in their tracks, and head for economic liberalism. 
The United States has done this; but it was possible because a new 
government came to power in 1933. Italy, England, and France have 
made half-hearted gestures indicating a willingness to consider a re- 
turn to freedom. Germany has adhered rigidly to her self-sufficiency 
program. Germany alone has not devalued; this might be the ex- 
planation. Or it may be that Germany preferred the other alterna- 


tive: to abandon a purely economic warfare for more stringent and 
more spectacular measures. In all fairness, we must ask: "Is it not 
possible that England and France also preferred the second alter- 

Suggested Readings 

Beveridge, Sir William, and others, Tariffs, the Case Examined, Long- 
mans Green, 1932. 

Carr-Saunders, A. M., World Population: Past Growth and Present 
Trends, Clarendon Press, 1936. 

Ellsworth, Paul T., International Economics, Macmillan, 1938 (esp. Part 
II, "Policy"). 

Gregory, T. E., The Gold Standard and Its Puture, Dutton, 1935. 

Haight, F., French Import Quotas, London, 1935. 

Heuser, Heinrich, Control of International Trade, Blakiston, 1939. 

Hicks, Ursula, The Finance of British Government, ig20-ig^6, London, 

Iverson, Carl, International Capital Movements, London, 1935. 

Keynes, J. M., Economic Consequences of the Peace, Macmillan, 1920. 

Moukon, H. G., and Pasvolsky, War Debts and World Prosperity, Wash- 
ington, Brookings, 1932. 

Poole, Kenyon, German Financial Policies, ig^2-ig^g. Harvard University 
Press, 1939. 

Robbins, Lionel, The Great Depression, London, 1934. 

Economic Planning and International Order, London, 1937. 

Staley, Eugene, Raw Materials in Peace and War, New York Council on 
Foreign Relations, 1937. 

Welk, W. G., Fascist Economic Policy, Harvard University Press, 1938. 


Balogh, Thomas, "The National Economy of Germany," Economic 

Journal, September, 1938. 
Gideonse, Harry, "War Debts," International Conciliation, November, 

1933, No. 294. 
Heuser, Heinrich, "German Method of Combined Debt Liquidation and 

Export Stimulation," Review of Economic Studies, Vol. I, No. 3. 
Higgins, Benjamin, "Germany's Bid for Agricultural Self-Sufficiency," 

journal of Farm Economics, May, 1939. 
Robbins, Lionel, "The Optimum Theory of Population," London Essays 

in Economics, edited by T. E. Gregory and Hugh Dalton; London, 

Routledge, 1927. 


Royal Institute of International Affairs, Information Department, "Raw 

Materials and Colonies." 
Schacht, Hjalmar, "Germany's Colonial Demands," Foreign Affairs, 

January, 1937. 
Schumpeter, Joseph, Business Cycles {" \()i()-i^iq)^ and "The World 

Crisis and After"), Chaps. XIV, XV, McGraw-Hill, 1939. 





Frances Winwar 

Outside it was raining that night of April 2, 1917. For many 
minutes President Wilson, his lean, ascetic face clearly show- 
ing the effect of the moral conflict of months, had been rehearsing 
the provocations which finally determined him to lead the United 
States into the World War, on the side of the Allies and against 
Germany. "We are now about to accept the gage of battle with this 
natural foe to liberty . . ." he was saying. "We are glad now that 
we see the facts with no veil of false pretense about them, to fight 
thus for the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its 
peoples, the German peoples included: for the rights of nations 
great and small and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their 
way of life and obedience. The world must be made safe for 

It had been no sudden decision. As early as August of 1914 the 
President had expressed to Colonel House the conviction that if 
Germany won, it would change the course of civiUzation and make 
the United States a military nation. He was even more outspoken in 
December of the following year to Brand Whitlock, Minister to 
Belgium, who had confessed being heart and soul for the AlUes. 



"So am I," Wilson replied. "No decent man, knowing the situa- 
tion in Germany, would be anything else. But that is only my own 
personal opinion ... I am not justified in forcing my opinion upon 
the people of the United States and bringing them into a war which 
they do not understand." It was all ideals. No word was said of the 
economic factors that had brought the countries of Europe into a 
chaos out of which war seemed the only way. 

But long before an expeditionary army of two milHon men had 
been transported across the Atlantic to help the Allies win the war, 
hundreds of American youths had made their way to the battlefront. 
From factories and offices they came, from athletic field and college 
cloister which had little to offer against the excitement of enlisting 
in the American ambulance service, or the Norton Harjes, or even 
the Red Cross sectors on the Italian side. For youth wanted adven- 
ture, and in its ardor accepted it the more eagerly when it came 
wrapped in the mantle of idealism. 

It was a soul-hungry generation, the generation that was just 
coming of age — soul-hungry and a little weary, though as yet it had 
hardly begun to live. Born a little before or after the year of the 
Spanish-American War, it had no memory of the struggle except 
for mention of it as something long past in the school history book, 
or for the sight of some uniform in a museum smelling vaguely of 
old attics. The names of the battleship Maine and of Admiral Dewey 
came up in connection with it, but on the whole there had been 
little in the war-casualty list of some five hundred mariners and 
soldiers to fire the imagination, always most exalted by the spec- 
tacular in suffering and death. It had lured, however, one as yet 
inglorious poet, Carl Sandburg, a raw lad of nineteen who enlisted 
with the Sixth Illinois Volunteer Infantry. 

The war had begun and ended within a few months in 1898. Al- 
together it had been well worth while in the estimation of all but 
those whose husbands, sons, or fathers never came home. For several 
years there were accusations of "imperiaHsm" in the air; "imperial- 
ism" was even made an issue in the next presidential campaign. But 
soon whatever opposition there had been to the wholesale establish- 
ment of so-called protectorates died down or swelled to national 
pride as the country began gaining in prestige in the eyes of the 


European powers that had been prone to look upon America as a 
formidable but not too intelligent giant. 

The decade that followed saw that giant bewildered and impotent 
against the huge combinations of capital which were forming on 
every hand, seizing natural resources for private exploitation and 
rising as forces of dangerous potentiality. On its side, labor too 
united for collective bargaining, the American Federation of Labor 
alone counting a membership in millions by 1905. Three years 
earlier, notwithstanding the counter-unions encouraged by the em- 
ployers to fight the growing power of organized labor, a strike led 
by John Mitchell of the United Mine Workers of America succeeded 
in paralyzing the nation, so that when President Theodore Roosevelt 
prevailed upon the warring parties to submit to an arbitration com- 
mission, it lost no time in acceding to the miners' demands for 
shorter hours and better pay. In spite of such victories, however, 
wealth continued to accumulate under control of the few, and while 
men did not decay, at least in the large industrial centers, they were 
far from attaining equitable returns for their labor. Those first ten 
years of the twentieth century are notable, among other things, for 
an attempt to nominate William Randolph Hearst on a radical ticket 
in the presidential election of 1904, for the financial panic of 1907 
which was under control before the close of the year, but most of 
all for the enormous advances in science, industry, and the still young 
but amazing study of the subconscious mind begun in the dawn of 
the century by Sigmund Freud and soon to attain such populariza- 
tion as it is seldom the lot of a science to achieve. Indeed, at the 
cradle of those youths later to be known as the "lost generation," 
there stood two godfathers with their dangerous gifts: Freud who 
was to diminish the ego that had thought itself the center of crea- 
tion, and Einstein who was almost to annihilate it by enlarging the 
boundaries of the universe. 

Life, however, went on, as it has a disconcerting way of doing 
even in the face of the most convincing argument, men pursuing 
their courses with no concern for the finiteness or the illimitedness 
of space — except when, as during the year of the comet, it threatened 
to prove too narrow for comfort. But the comet passed, carrying 
in its wake a handful of hysterical suicides, to fade altogether from 


memory before the glare of the planet Mars, kindled to blood-red 
fury because someone whose name few now remember, was killed 
at Sarajevo. From all over the world millions came to the battlefield 
and "poured out the red sweet wine of youth" — some to save democ- 
racy and civilization, some to end war, but all, as the survivors were 
to learn, in vain. 

The outbreak of the first World War saw the young generation 
in high school and college, the less privileged already at work in 
office, shop, or farm. The people of the United States were enjoying 
a moderate degree of prosperity, talked about the day when every 
family would be owning one of Mr. Ford's automobiles; wondered 
whether the flying machine would ever really amount to anything; 
discussed the latest news from the generous pages of the family 
paper, the tabloid with its pictorial journalism not yet having become 
popularized; went to the movies on Saturday and to church on Sun- 
day; read the periodicals and perhaps the latest popular book not 
yet known as a "best seller," and on the whole lived a complacent, 
carpet-slipper existence; except, of course, for the unions, the 
I.W.W.'s already implicated in bombings in the West, the fiery 
oratory of the anarchist Emma Goldman, and the unlady-like advo- 
cacy of birth control by Margaret Sanger. Among the more leisured 
the literary and the Rotary clubs were gaining in vogue and 

American Literary Renascence 

Culture, since the advent of Oscar Wilde in 1882, was again 
"coming over" America, this time via France, in an indirect line of 
descent from her imagist poets about to be discovered by Amy 
Lowell of BrookHne, Massachusetts, through her discipleship to the 
red-headed, expatriate Ezra Pound of Idaho. Miss Lowell had already 
given the world a volume of verse, whose chief distinction lay in its 
title from Shelley. It was as a pathfinder for the eager young, seeking 
direction, that she was to prove important. 

Intellectual ferment was in the air. In Chicago, another spinster, 
Harriet Monroe, poet laureate of the World's Fair of the 'nineties, 
had started a little magazine that called itself, unassumingly, Poetry. 
Again Ezra Pound had given it its accolade when he allowed himself 


to appear in the first issue. The white-bearded Hindoo mystic Tagore 
graced its pages with oriental perfume and beatitude, to be succeeded 
by the blare and boom of Vachel Lindsay escorting General Booth to 
heaven, and Carl Sandburg whose Chicago poems celebrating the 
"Hog Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat" had 
begun to catch the ear of the nation listening for a positive, native 
note in the midst of the imported or imitative naysaying. Genteel 
poetesses from New England, emancipated Greenwich Villagers 
from New York, sent their effusions to the high priestess of Cass 
Street. Even the American colonists of the rive gauche, the Bohemian 
left bank of Paris, entrusted their "midnight (oil) darlings" to the 
mercies of the ocean and over one-third of the continent, in the hope 
that Miss Monroe would deign to cast her eyes upon their heart- 
wrung poesy. 

Poetry, however, had a rival in the Little Review, bursting upon 
the artistic quarter of Chicago as the war had broken upon Europe. 
Margaret Anderson was no high priestess but rather a torchbearer, 
ready to start an intellectual burning of Rome just to see the pretty 
poets roasting. An ardent admirer of Emma Goldman, she too had 
not a little of the anarchist in her contempt for the tame and the 
conventional, the smug, the established, and the commonplace. 
Withal she had an almost angelic tolerance, the obverse of her pyro- 
mania, which made her take to her bosom, as the years went by, 
imagists and erotics, Surrealists and unintelligibles, whom she made 
to feel at home in Chicago as in New York to which she eventually 
removed her review for a change of fortune. 

New York, however, already had its Masses, a grown man of three 
(as magazines go) when the fatal shots were fired at Sarajevo. It 
was born in the basement of the Rand School on Fifteenth Street, 
fathered by Piet Vlag, an exponent of the Co-operative movement, 
mothered by the Revolution in all the abstract dignity of a capital 
R, and smiled upon by the ghost of Karl Marx. Thomas Seltzer 
who christened it was also its first mentor. The proletariat, for whose 
enlightenment the magazine had been created, read Vlag's exhorta- 
tions, nodded over the poetry, chuckled at the pictures and cartoons, 
and obediently awaited the coming of the Great Day. But even with 
Eugene Debs's assurance that the Masses was a splendid instrument 


of propaganda, they knew that it would be many a long year before 
the barricades were set up in Union Square. 

Nevertheless the Masses began exerting a telling influence, espe- 
cially after Max Eastman and Floyd Dell became its editors. While 
still keeping it left-SociaHst in policy, they made it as well a literary, 
artistic, and humorous magazine, not above poking fun at itself 
and fearless in its editorial outspokenness — "a revolutionary, not a 
reform magazine," as John Reed announced, "frank, arrogant, im- 
pertinent, searching for the true causes . . . printing what is too 
naked or true for a money-making press." The challenge of naked- 
ness and truth startled the censor who was not altogether reassured 
by such criticism from the right as 

They draw nude women for the Masses, 

Thick, fat, ungainly lasses — 

How does that help the working classes.? 

For the present, however, the censor did nothing, allowing the 
writers to publish their sedition — ^John Reed, for instance, to report 
the Paterson, New Jersey, silk strike — and the artists John Sloan, 
George Bellows, Charles A. Winter, K. R. Chamberlain, Art Young, 
and others to smuggle dynamite into their drawings. It was said that 
John D. Rockefeller, Jr., never allowed his subscription to lapse, not 
through any admiration of Masses literature and art, but that he 
might not miss the warning signal of the Revolution. 

Radical and artistic Hfe centered at that time about Greenwich 
Village and extended as far north as Gramercy Square, the original 
home of the Liberal Club when it was still under the aegis of Lincoln 
StefTens and Rev. Percy Stickney Grant. Revolt, however, a revolt of 
youth that found the urbane radical and the reverend too staid for 
their pace, divided the club, whose wide-eyed cohorts pitched their 
tent in the more vital air of the Village. Anything might happen in 
the club rooms on Macdougal Street. Poets and anarchists, artists and 
Utopians, split dialectical hairs or came to fisticuffs on the merits 
of the latest abstract painting, only to make their peace over a cup 
of Polly Holladay's tea in the restaurant below. Sooner or later, 
everyone came to the Village — the notorious LW.W. chief. Bill 
Haywood, one-eyed and mountainous; Alexander Berkman, hero 
and martyr, whom the comrades blamed not for shooting H. C. 


Frick but for not having made a thorough job of it; Mabel Dodge, 
nurturer of genius, who was just discovering John Reed as if with 
an uncanny foreknowledge that he would some day lie alongside the 
mausoleum that shrined the prophet of a new society in the vast 
Red Square of Moscow; Mary Heaton Vorse, George Cram Cook, 
Edna St. Vincent Millay, who held aloft the lovely light of the 
candle burning at both ends to emancipated youth, Eugene O'Neill, 
and countless others. 

Prelude to War 

By the time the conflict in Europe had entered its third year and 
the sentiment of non-intervention in America had been converted 
to war fever by the subtle arts of propaganda, there were flourishing 
all over the States countless Greenwich Villages where men and 
women, feeling the once secure basis of their world shaking under 
their feet, endeavored through self-expression, revolution, art, and 
Freud to maintain a deceptive balance. But the world continued 
shaking and meanwhile the new generation had come knocking at 
the door that opened into — what? 

At home and abroad they were finding out, though what they 
learned varied with their experience and the point of view. In the 
warring countries the people who remained behind knew the horrors 
of the air raid, the constant dread of receiving the official notice with 
the laconic "killed in battle," the rationing of food and necessities, 
then hunger, despair, disease, demoralization. They experienced the 
repression of civil liberties, censorship, the fear of uttering their 
thoughts aloud, the anguish of not knowing from day to day what 
added horror the next would bring. At the front life, if it could be 
called that, reduced itself to brutal simplicities. The older men 
were upheld by the words duty, honor, glory, patriotism, until they 
too learned the reality that underlay etymology. To the young, most 
of all to those who had volunteered, it was the danger, the adven- 
ture, that counted. Whether at Oxford, the Sorbonne, or Cambridge, 
Massachusetts, whether in London, New York, Oak Park, or Paris, 
youth, restive in a too smug and limited society that reckoned success 
by the plumpness of the money bag and achievement by popularity, 


sought something beyond them, beyond the deadly monotony of safe, 
everyday living. 

In many ways America's war generation offers striking parallels 
to the one which came of age in the 1890's in England. After more 
than half a century of Victoria's reign, Great Britain emerged as the 
empire on which the sun never set. Material prosperity made for 
arrogance and self-sufficiency. Mammon was enthroned in the mar- 
ket place — and the young needed something less gross to worship. 
They did not find it in life as Victoria had fashioned it; they 
looked for it in vain in the Christian revival, the Oxford move- 
ment of Newman, though many were to seek it in the Catholic 
Church. Most of them found it in danger that periled the soul rather 
than the body. Today we are accustomed to look upon their leader 
Wilde, upon Beardsley, Lionel Johnson, Ernest Dowson, and all 
those tragic youths who while finding, lost themselves, as so many 
highly colored figures in a literary pageant. But they were as much 
the representatives of a "lost generation," as much the survivors of a 
contest, the more deadly because it was spiritual, as those young men 
to whom Gertrude Stein gave so accurate a designation. They too 
sought values that were lacking in the surrounding materialism 
which had already tainted their young lives with world-weariness 
and disenchantment. They too sought it in adventure rationalized 
to a struggle for an idealistic cause. It was noteworthy that this lust 
for danger seized most strongly upon the imaginative and the 

Many a name among those who went to war is now part of lit- 
erary history. William Faulkner of Mississippi joined the Canadian 
Flying Corps and achieved the rank of Heutenant. Malcolm Cowley 
of Pennsylvania was active in the American Ambulance Service. 
Louis Bromfield, William Seabrook, Harry Crosby, and Sidney 
Howard drove camions and ambulances, like John Dos Passos and 
Ernest Hemingway, who later found the more brutal thrills of 
war in the Arditi, the Italian shock troops whose terrible defeat he 
shared at Caporetto. More fortunate than many of his fellows to 
whom that disaster of October proved the last, he escaped with his 
life, two medals for bravery from the Italian government, and a 
silver plate in his shoulder, a permanent reminder of the imme- 


diacy of death. Laurence Stallings returned even more grievously 
wounded. For a time E. E. Cummings drove a camion for the Nor- 
ton Harjes ambulance division; but his was to be an experience 
different from the rest, not near the actual front, but in a dull, insig- 
nificant pinpoint on the map of France, Mace, which because of his 
stay there attained an unlooked-for immortality. All these survived, 
and many more, some who brought home medals and scars like 
Hemingway, some outwardly unscathed, who carried their wounds 
within. There was not one among them who returned the man he 
had been. 

They came back, strangers in a changed world, men for whom 
the date of November ii, 1918, despite the frenzied outbursts with 
which it was celebrated, marked not an armistice but the beginning 
of a more bitter war. For them, as for all who had outlived the 
actual conflict, whether on the battlefield or behind the Hues, the 
real struggle was just beginning. In vain, inspired by an outdated 
political idealism, elaborate plans were being drawn for a League of 
Nations that should make other wars impossible. The ink was 
scarcely dry on its impracticable covenants when each war-torn 
country adopted a fanatical policy of economic nationalism, accom- 
panied by a paradoxical armed peace. The consequences were not 
far to seek, as succeeding years revealed. 

War Fever 

Culturally the war bore fruit long before its close as a result of the 
effective propaganda of hate and misrepresentation on which the 
people of all countries were fed. Atrocity stories shrieked in head- 
lines from the press and found credence with hitherto sane people 
who, forgetting the purported noble motives for which the war was 
being fought, shouted for the extermination of the enemy. In Ger- 
many, in England, in France, in America, it was unpatriotic — and 
unsafe — not to agree with the majority. A prominent political figure 
of proved integrity, the father of Charles A. Lindbergh, Lone Eagle 
of 1927, was ostracized for opposing America's war mania and died 
a broken man in consequence of his courage. People dared not speak 
their minds even before friends and found it the better part of valor 
not only to be discreet, but to echo the accepted lie. "Taisez-vous! 


Mefiez-vous! Les oreilles ennemies vous ecoutent!" exhorted the 
warning tacked on the doors of trains, hotels, and public buildings 
in France. Faithfully people kept their mouths shut and mistrusted 
everyone for fear of the listening ears of the enemy. 

With few exceptions, writers and artists either howled with the 
crowd, submerging their individuality in the multitude, or sought 
safe havens of escape in the past, in fantasy, in the future — anywhere, 
anywhere out of reality. In Italy D'Annunzio, once the archangel of 
revolt, not only glorified war but took part in it. Others, more or 
less great, followed his example, pouring out rabid novels and verses 
that heightened the war fever till intellect became delirium. With 
Coningsby Dawson scores of otherwise pacific writers produced vol- 
umes of inciting fiction, or like Robert W. Service, beat the war 
drums in rhythms that even the illiterate could understand. Painters 
who had hitherto found their greatest joy in pure art forsook it for 
propaganda, doing their bit by daubing patriotic posters appealing 
to the emotions of the mob. Everything was sacrificed to feed the 
war god whose first victim was the white-clad figure of truth. 

Nevertheless an infinitesimal minority in each country carried on 
the battle of the one against the many. "The children of a new 
generation," said Stefan Zweig many years after the armistice, "will 
scarcely find it possible to realize what those who belonged to this 
minority had to suffer." Because he had felt the need of expressing 
himself and others like him — the unheard, the outcast, the despised — 
he chose as his symbol the Biblical Jeremiah, through whose mouth, 
in his play of that name, he said the things he could not otherwise 
have uttered. Thus his allegorical protest against war reached an 
audience in spite of the stringency of the censorship. 

In France Romain Rolland, while also adopting symbolism in 
his drama Liluli to show the futility and the folly of war, never- 
theless voiced his condemnation of its barbarity in terms so unmis- 
takable that he fell foul of the authorities. His prosecution became 
a cause cSlebre, but few gave him moral support in his unpopular 
and risky crusade. Self-righteous patriots accused him of defeatism; 
embusque heroes, well ambushed in safe posts, taunted him with 
cowardice. Out of his experience came one of the noblest works 
indirectly produced by the war, Clerambault, the bitter Odyssey of 


an independent spirit in a time of herd hysteria. The book is not a 
novel, though it has some elements of fiction; neither is it auto- 
biography, in spite of Clerambault's resemblances to RoUand him- 
self; the study is too objective, too universal for that. It might be 
taken rather as the searching soul-portrait of an individuahst in the 
cataclysm, as he gropes toward the light of truth when all about him 
are denying its existence. In his strength as in his weakness, Rolland 
portrays him to that final moment when at the cry of his murderer, 
"I have killed the enemy," the words flash through his darkening 
brain: "My poor friend, it is within you yourself that the enemy lies." 

Rolland wrote an explanatory note to an instalment of Cleram- 
bault that appeared in the Swiss press in 1917. Better than anything 
one can say, he delivers his message, a daring one even for less 
fanatical days: "He who makes himself the servant of a bUnd or 
blinded nation . . . does not truly serve it but lowers both it and 
himself . . . Sincere thought, even if it does run counter to that of 
others, is still a service to mankind." 

The experiences of Zweig and Rolland were common to inde- 
pendent spirits everywhere. The moment a country plunged into 
the war, the whole process of repression and censorship began. News- 
papers either conformed or were ruthlessly suppressed. Periodicals 
remained organs of opinion only so long as that opinion followed 
the policies of the government. As a result many of them went out 
of existence or became vapid, pseudo-literary magazines whose 
closest contact with life took place in some safe Cloudcuckooland. 

The working of the repressive method in America was perhaps 
best shown in the case of the Masses. For some time, since the veer- 
ing of public opinion toward the side of the Allies, the Department 
of Justice had been watching each issue of the magazine as it came 
off the press. There was plenty of matter both in the drawings and 
in the editorial comment to worry the censor who, however, found 
nothing on which to build a case un<"il, several months after Presi- 
dent Wilson's war-entry speech, the troublesome little magazine 
boldly published a number of anti-militarist cartoons. Immediately 
the Masses was forbidden the mails. Notwithstanding, the maga- 
zine continued to appear, more openly anti-war than ever, evea 


though the editors were aware o£ a very slaughter of the innocents 
among radical publications throughout the country. Defiantly they 
declared in the issue of August, 1917: "The Masses is the only one 
which has challenged the censorship in the courts and put the Gov- 
ernment on the defensive. Each month we have something vitally 
important to say on the war. We are going to say it and continue to 
say it. We are going to fight any attempt to prevent us from say- 
ing it." 

The government, however, had other views on the subject, which 
it conclusively demonstrated by suppressing the Masses. By the close 
of the year, with the December issue, the Masses ceased to exist. 
Worse, its editors. Max Eastman, Floyd Dell, Art Young, Merrill 
Rogers, the business manager, and later John Reed, who was given 
time to return from Russia, were brought to trial for sedition and for 
interfering with enlistment. At first the outcome seemed none too 
bright, for it was no trifling offense during the war to challenge the 
government's policies. Finally, after a lengthy procedure, the jury 
disagreed and the stage was set for a second trial in September. For 
weeks the process went on, the oratory of the defense and prosecu- 
tion proving so soporific on one occasion that Art Young, forgetting 
the nightmare of Atlanta Prison hanging over him, fell asleep. Again 
the jury disagreed, but as the war was by then almost over the 
matter was dropped on what amounted to a verdict of acquittal. 

The Masses, however, had a successor in the Liberator which Max 
Eastman and Art Young had launched in the very beard of the 
Department of Justice while they were awaiting trial. They intended 
it to be the Masses under another name, but there were too many 
forces against it. All that the Liberator could do at most was to 
imitate the best features of the original yet try to keep on the safe 
side. John Reed would have none of such backsliding, and promptly 
resigned from the editorial staff, while Eastman and the faithful 
handful carried on the work, sighing after "the glamor of the 
abstract moral principle" that had died with the Masses. In 1922 
when Eastman, like many another idealist, went to Russia to see 
the workings of the "glorious experiment" the Liberator was taken 
over as one of the organs of the American Communist Party. 


Trench Literature 

Whatever the preoccupations of the government with seditious 
writing might be, the people had to have something to read, and 
the soldiers in the trenches must be supplied with books — books that 
should at once sustain their morale and hold the door open to 
human hope. David Garnett, looking back upon the war years, re- 
called in a recent article that of all literature the soldiers at the front 
liked nothing better than sentimental stories. The trenches in 
France, he says, were littered with copies of Gene Stratton Porter's 
Precipes which sold in the tens of thousands. What was its attrac- 
tion? Simply its memories of home and peace and innocence, and 
those simple values which the war had suddenly overturned. The 
soldiers wanted life as they remembered it before they entered No 
Man's Land. "I was kept warm by the ardor of life within me," 
wrote Wilfred Owen. "I forgot hunger in the hunger for life." 
The actualities of the front, death, the barbarity, the suffering, the 
needless human waste were the last things the men wished to be 
reminded of. If the war had to be written about, they preferred it in 
such versions as Smith's Dere Mabel and Empey's Over the Top. 

Next to sentimental fiction the soldiers liked poetry which could 
compress a wealth of emotional content in a brief space. Antholo- 
gies, therefore, were favorites with the men. Hence recently, to meet 
the present need, the English house of Routledge brought out two 
such collections designed for the soldiers at the front. The Knapsac\ 
and The English Vision, the one to remind them of the blessings of 
home, the other to keep before them the heritage of England. 

From 1914 to 1918 books of war verse, the inspirational variety 
written comfortably from the depths of an armchair, and the vivid, 
poignant poems of the trenches flooded the market. In their pa- 
triotism the reviewers hailed a new genius with every edition of the 
literary supplements, sentimentalized over each week's crop of 
fighting Byrons, and praised the war that had produced them. 

From a distance of twenty-five years, however, the poetry of the 
war seems hardly to have justified the critical acclaim. There were 
individual poems that achieved a certain fame for meeting the emo- 
tional need of the time: some of Rupert Brooke's stirring 1^14 son- 


nets, for instance; Alan Seeger's "Rendezvous with Death" and a 
half-dozen others. But the only poets of any stature produced by the 
war were the two Englishmen, Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. 
Owen enlisted in the beginning of the war and saw two years of 
service. Then for more than a year he was invalided. In October, 
1918, he returned to the front, only to be killed, shortly before the 
armistice, while leading his men, the Artists' Rifles, across the 
Lambre Canal. He was twenty-five when he died. A dreamy, imag- 
inative youth of wonderful sensibility, he had hated war as much as 
he had loved humanity in those grim, brave semblances of men who 
were his companions. It was at the hospital that he produced the 
greater part of his poetry under the guidance and encouragement of 
Sassoon, whom he met there. He wrote of the things he himself had 
known, but although he drew from the horror and gruesomeness of 
war, he endeavored to raise the mind to the ultimate values that 
could survive such a test. 

I, too, saw God through mud — 

he wrote in "Apologia pro Poemate Meo," 

The mud that cracked on cheeks when wretches smiled. 
War brought more glory to their eyes than blood, 
And gave their laughs more glee than shakes a child. 

Merry it was to laugh there — 

Where death becomes absurd and life absurder. 
For power was on us as we slashed bones bare 
Not to feel sickness or remorse of murder. . . . 

Raids, bombings, the torturing asphyxiation of gas shells, all found 
their place in poetry that had gone far in its passionate indictment 
since those early days when everyone was drunkenly proclaiming the 
sweetness of sacrifice. He had seen how sweet such sacrifice could be, 
and from the agony of his anger he wrote it in letters of blood before 
he died : 

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace 

Behind the wagon that we flung him in, 

And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, 

His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin. 

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood 

Come gurgling from the froth-corrupted lungs . . . 


My friend, you would not tell with such high zest 
To children ardent for some desperate glory, 
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est 
Pro patria mori.^ 

Siegfried Sassoon, slightly older than Owen whose poems he 
edited in 1920, was in active service through the duration of the war 
except for several months on two occasions when he was severely 
wounded. He came out of it a violent pacifist. Indeed, before the 
war ended, and after he had been awarded a Military Cross for 
bravery, he enacted a rebellion of his own, threw down his arms, 
and refused to go on fighting. His was such unheard-of behavior, 
especially when he emphasized his resolution by flinging his Cross 
into the sea, that he was pronounced insane and sent away for a 
change of air. On his return he suffered his second wound. But the 
war was soon over and he no longer had need for personal protest. In 
the books of prose and verse which he began publishing after the 
war, he continued, however, to carry on his fight against the ordeal 
that had shattered him and the best youth of his generation. His 
message is clear and forceful though with less of the emotional 
intensity of Owen's. Today he is the gadfly of English society whose 
snobbery and chauvinism he mercilessly punctures. 

The Protest 

War's disillusionment, however, had made itself felt among the 
actual participants at the front long before the orators at home 
had exhausted their vocabulary on the grandeur and glory of death 
on the field of battle. On both sides feeling men were revolted by 
the cruel illogicality of it all. They had entered the war, most of 
them, inspired by the highest motives, on the Allied side sustained 
by the conviction that they were battling the Antichrist in the hated 
Kaiser; on the German, that they were carrying on God's fight. 
"Gott mit uns," the slogan rang; and because God was with them, 
they were against the forces of evil, the loathed imperialists who were 
encircling Germany and preventing her from achieving the expan- 
sion that divine right had decreed. Church and state combined on 
both sides to keep the myths alive, but they reckoned without a force 

•^ "A gratifying and seemly thing it is to die for one's country." 


more potent than propaganda: common humanity which succeeded 
at last in piercing through the smoke screen of Hes and prejudice. 
There is an eloquent bit of dialogue in R. C. Sherrifif's Journey's End, 
laid at the time of the German offensive in 1918, which has its 
counterpart in almost every work that deals directly with the war. 

It occurs during the scene wherein Osborne, representative of the 
best in the British army, tries to make young Raleigh understand 
what war is. "The Germans are really quite decent, aren't they?" 
the boy remarks, catching himself quickly. "I mean, outside the 
newspapers.?" "Yes," Osborne answers, continuing after a pause: "I 
remember up at Wipers we had a man shot when he was out on 
patrol. Just at dawn. We couldn't get him in that night. He lay out 
there groaning all day. Next night three of our men crawled out to 
get him in. It was so near the German trenches that they could have 
shot our fellows one by one. But, when our men began dragging the 
wounded man back over the rough ground, a big German officer 
stood up in the trenches and called out: 'Carry him!' — and our fel- 
lows stood up and carried the man back, and the German fired 
some lights for them to see by. . . . Next day we blew each other's 
trenches to blazes."^ 

SherriiT, it is true, was writing in 1928, from the perspective of 
distance that had helped to give facts their just proportion; but as 
early as 1917, Bernard Shaw, assuming an allegorical style, had 
striven to waken the conscience of thinking men in his so-called 
fantasia in the Russian manner, Heartbrea\ House, a play which 
unmasked the Europe which made the World War possible. In a 
preface which later accompanied the published work he tells some 
wholesome truths, not the less important for coming after the evil 
they sought to correct: "Not only were Shakespeares and Platos 
being killed outright, but many of the best harvests of the survivors 
had to be sown in the barren soil of the trenches. And this was no 
mere British consideration. To a truly civilized man, to the good 
European, the slaughter of the German youth was as disastrous as 
the English. Fools exulted in 'German losses.' They were our losses 
as well. Imagine exulting in the death of Beethoven because Bill 
Sykes dealt him his death blow!" 

^Editor's Note: The sympathy of percussion. See above, p. 29. — W. W. 


Almost continuously for the next ten years and more, other 
writers were dramatizing the gigantic catastrophe. Somerset 
Maugham in 1920 wrote The Un]{nown; Ernst Toller, imprisoned 
as a dangerous revolutionist, produced in 19 19 Die Wandlung in 
the white heat of his fury against the war machine, following it 
four years later with his expressionist drama, Iiin\emann, which 
traces so harrowing a picture of one man's calvary in the aftermath 
that only the chaotic unreality of the dramatic form makes it possible 
to bear.^ 

In France H. R. Lenormand, a master of the new psychology, 
explored in his play of the coward, he Ldche, the mind and emotions 
of an artist who, physically weak, abhorred every form of violence 
and went through agonies of spiritual torture to avoid being sent 
to the front. It is the inner tragedy of the contemned, those who 
"die many times before their death" for a fault chargeable to nature 
and a necessity imposed by man. The subject, antipathetic to most 
writers, found an able exponent in Lenormand who in his almost 
medieval belief in the active power of evil, revealed its influence, 
through the medium of war, upon one of the darker aspects of the 
human psyche. 

These, with Zweig's and Rolland's allegorical dramas, are but a 
few chosen from the hundreds, to indicate the various directions 
taken by the creative mind. In the United States the first and at the 
same time the best war play exploded with the shock of a powerful 
shell at the Plymouth Theatre, New York, during the season of 1924. 
Laurence Stallings, co-author of What Price Glory? had fought in 
the war. He had been in it at the worst period, and had returned 
maimed and, Uke the rest, emotionally shattered. He had seen men 
brutaHzed by trench life; he had watched, day by day, the disintegra- 
tion, physical and moral, of pitiful wretches who could no longer 
be recognized as human beings. His resentment cried for expression, 
but it was only after his experiences had crystallized into the material 
for art that, with Maxwell Anderson as collaborator, he wrote his tre- 
mendous indictment. 

"What Price Glory? is a play of war as it is," the program warned 
the audience, "not as it has been presented theatrically for hundreds 

^ Toller committed suicide in the United States in 1939. 


of years. The soldiers talk and act much as soldiers the world over. 
The speech of men under arms is universally and constantly inter- 
larded with profanity . . ." 

Wilfred Owen had commented upon the fact in one of his 

I have perceived much beauty 

In the hoarse oaths that kept our courage straight. 

Barbusse in Le Fen had made it the subject of a pathetically amusing 
scene when, while he is writing in the trenches, one of his men 
expresses the suspicion that he will make them talk Hke proper 
folk — the way the people back there, at home, would have them talk, 
all the gros mots chastely indicated by asterisks. 

What Price Glory? shook New York out of all complacence. Here 
the evils of war were no longer wrapped in sentimental glamor, but 
shown naked for what they were, in the convincing art of the 
theatre. For two breathless hours the audience lived with the men in 
the French farmhouse behind the lines, followed them in their wine- 
cellar dug-out, and groaned with desperation when, returning spent 
and wounded from their terrific battle, the soldiers were ordered 
back to fight. People sat tense through revolting scenes, not knowing 
whether to admire or shudder at those creatures, impervious now to 
everything but death. Pious souls, missing the burning message of 
the play, tried to have it closed on moral grounds. But the public 
now wanted the truth and What Price Glory? remained for the rest 
of a successful run. 

In the novel the protest against war was heard even earlier, com- 
ing, as was to be expected, from men who had been thrown into the 
fray in its initial stages. Men in War by Andreas Latzko, an Aus- 
trian army officer, was perhaps the first of the hundreds of war books 
to receive universal attention. Its vivid sketches, compacted in their 
fidelity of the mud and blood of the trenches, appeared in America 
in 1918, just in time to make the nation reflect whether it had done 
wisely to send the flower of her youth to so futile a carnage. Two 
years later Latzko published a novel, The Judgment of Peace. A 
powerful arraignment, it was still too close to the facts for the author 
to write without bias. Full of hate though it was for war, the 
makers of war and the cruelties of a vindictive peace, it showed little 


of that brotherhood of man which it advocated, and differed only 
in its honest attempt at fairness from such partisan accounts as My 
Memoirs by Grand Admiral von Tirpitz, and Ludendorffs Own 
Story, both published the same year. 

But by that time Henri Barbusse had written Le Feu, his searing 
document of the war, which, as if the picture he painted were too 
black for mortal eyes, he alleviated with the light of hope in 
Clarte. Both novels were the outcome of the early years of the war. 
In Le Feu he used the simple device of a journal recording the vicis- 
situdes of his squad. With uncanny visual lucidity he sought out the 
least detail, omitting nothing, however degrading, to reveal the un- 
mitigated horror of the thing he condemned. Never, before or since, 
has such a picture been drawn of war, from the physical misery of 
trench life, to the soul-killing effect of the profession of murder. 
There are scenes which even in the distance of years lose none of 
their power: the shooting of the young soldier for running back 
from the line of fire; the finding of Eudoxie's rotting body by the 
man who had loved her, hopelessly. But it is in the scenes of actual 
battle, toward the end of Le Feu, that the author dares to look into 
the very depths of the abyss. 

Perhaps because of his despair at the futility of it all Barbusse 
sought to persuade himself that it had not been in vain, and that out 
of the fearful devastation some great truth might arise for humanity. 
With renewed faith in society, he announced his message of hope 
in Clarte, out of which grew the international group of that name, 
preaching peace, the solidarity of nations, and the social equality of 
all citizens — to which high aims time has made sardonic commentary 
in the wars which have since spilled blood in Ethiopia, in Asia 
Minor, in China, in Africa, in Spain — in Europe! 

More realistic because earlier disenchanted in their life, American 
writers saw no ray in the blackness. "War is hell," they agreed, and 
as hell they wrote of it, some well, some not so well, a few superbly. 
The first two notable war books, One Man's Initiation and Three 
Soldiers brought John Dos Passos to the fore as a realist of the first 
importance though as yet he had not discovered the swift, cinema 
technique of his social novels. Both books stripped war of all 


romance, and certainly Three Soldiers will hold its place as a valu- 
able human record. It is in the later novels of Dos Passos, however, 
most particularly in his trilogy pubHshed as US. A., that he has 
made the most effective use of his assimilation of world events. In 
the largeness of its scope US. A. is in itself a history of the war and 
its effects on America. 

For the present generation, and probably for generations to come, 
it is A Farefull to Arms that will remain the book of the war for its 
tragic love story and the still starker tragedy of Caporetto. When 
Ernest Hemingway wrote his novel he was some ten years removed 
from the events he described. He had come back from his self- 
imposed exile in France and from his tutelage to Gertrude Stein; 
and he had a considerable amount of work behind him in published 
novels and short stories. In A Farewell to Arms, however, he realized 
to the full the strength of which he had so far given only intimations. 
In the rushing narrative it is not so much Lieutenant Frederick 
Henry who is the protagonist as the army of which he is a part, not 
alone the army, but the whole, unholy complex of war, which one 
entered for the fun of the thing but which in the end when love, 
friendship, body, and spirit had been crushed by it, wrung out the 
wormwood wisdom : "I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, 
glorious, and sacrifice and the expression in vain ... I had seen 
nothing sacred, and the things that were glorious had no glory 
and the sacrifices were like the stockyards at Chicago if nothing 
was done with the meat except to bury it." 

Hemingway has been called the American Byron; but Byron 
had had no such real causes to be obsessed by violence and death. 
If Hemingway is Byronic it is because he has wished to be an active 
participant in life, seeking out by preference its stronger passions 
whether of love or of war. Again, Hemingway has been accused of 
having no political or social convictions, of being attracted, for 
example, by the spectacle of war instead of searching into the causes 
that make it. But then, is there not conviction enough in the manner 
of a novelist's treatment of his subject? Hemingway could have 
glorified Caporetto — as no doubt it has been done — into a lofty 
sacrifice, appropriately epitaphed with Dulce et decorum . . . In- 


stead he has us see it as a huge Golgotha, one of the many sky- 
reaching mounds which mankind has been fond of raising only to 
find at their summit a grinning skull. It was Hemingway whom 
Gertrude Stein had in mind when for a moment uncryptic she 
evolved the meaningful phrase of the "lost generation"; and him it 
best suited perhaps, until recently, when from his barren research of 
death in the bullring and in the green hills of Africa, he saw it for 
the first time ennobled among the fighters for freedom in Spain. 

Edward Estling Cummings it was, however, who, before he be- 
came the poet e. e. cummings, produced the most unique, and some 
would have it, the best, book of the war when his connection with 
a letter-writing friend brought him to a concentration camp on 
suspicion of espionage. There was no evidence against him except 
that he knew Mr. B. It was enough, nevertheless, for the French 
government to take him from the Norton Harjes Division for 
which he had been driving an ambulance, and send him off under 
guard to Mace, a virtual prisoner "for the duration of the war." The 
Enormous Room was the outcome. Though only indirectly an ar- 
raignment of the war, its implications reaching as deep and as far 
as the perceptions of an extraordinarily keen artist, it conveys a more 
annihilating sense of the debasement of the individual under the 
conditions produced by war than any description of the shambles 
of the battlefield. For here it is human dignity that is every day de- 
graded, and the human spirit that is done to death. 

It remained for an Englishwoman to write the heart-wrung testa- 
ment of war's youth. Vera Brittain's personal record of the war 
did not appear until 1933; even after such lapse of time it must 
still have taken great courage to recall and set down scenes so 
harrowing, and to reckon again losses so cruel. Testament of Youth 
is a narrative of the war as deceived young idealists saw it at the 
front, and as their sisters and sweethearts lived it in the war hospitals 
and at home during the anguished years of the actual fighting and 
the disheartening period of reconstruction when post-war Europe 
was struggling to rise out of the wreckage of civilization. More 
than all that, it is the story of another lost generation, one that never 
found its way back to the world of the living. 


The Ja':^ Age and Other Hysteria 

Meanwhile another period had long set in as one more of the 
varied manifestations of the post-war era. For the effect of the war 
itself was not to be found alone in the expression of creative writers, 
but in the changing aspect of the life of the people. As every year 
brought different developments, it was gradually becoming evident 
that the war had not only succeeded in undermining, and in some 
cases overthrowing, the social and political structures of nations, 
making way for entirely new forms of society, but it had shaken the 
faith in the once secure assumptions of progressive civiHzation. By 
1925 there was no longer any doubt that the world of the day was 
centuries removed — some thought centuries behind — the world of 

Yet materially the people were better oflF during the period of re- 
adjustment, at least in England and America. The pre-war dream 
of a car in every garage was coming nearer realization in the march 
of unparalleled prosperity, and few cared to give much thought to 
the probity of ways and means provided the end were profitable. 
For the war had also shattered moral values. People were unsure of 
themselves. Tottering, as they had been, on the very crater of hell, 
with death as a constant companion, they challenged in the pre- 
cariousness of their living the rules of conduct by which they had 
been constrained to abide. A short life but a merry one, became 
their motto. If they had doubts of their mental or physical health, 
there was the wonder-worker Coue who promised miraculous cures 
by the simple repetition of the charm, "Every day in every way I 
am getting better and better." If they had moments of backward- 
looking regret for the dear ones they had lost, there was the handy 
consolation of the Ouija board which brought them into communi- 
cation with the departed, and a plentiful supply of handbooks on 
spiritualism, volumes advertised in the book review sections under 
such titles as Life After Death, On the Threshold of the Un\nown, 
How to Sp€a\ with the Dead. Since such otherwise unimpeachable 
sages as Sir Oliver Lodge and James Barrie believed in the unknown, 
surely there must be something in it. The more skeptical found easy 
forgetfulness in the newly-established speak-easy, offspring of what 


was ridiculed as the "blue-nose law," the Prohibition Amendment 
which went into effect on the i6th of January, 1920, after a prolonged 

As with every reform instituted during President Wilson's admin- 
istration, it was founded on the sincerest idealism. As early as 1917 
Congress had submitted to the States the Eighteenth Amendment 
to the Constitution, which made illegal the manufacture and sale of 
alcoholic beverages — as a war measure, to conserve grain as food 
supply for the maintenance of the war machine that was soon going 
into action. The result was such as its supporters would not have 
imagined in their wildest dreams. Instead of the expected sobriety, 
moral recklessness followed; the country went on a drunken spree. 
True, the saloons were outlawed, but in their place came illicit re- 
sorts where bootleg liquor flowed freely — at a price — and drunken- 
ness was made attractive by a sense of daring. From the first, gangs 
set themselves up in the liquor traffic, arranging for contraband from 
Europe, Canada, Bermuda, the West Indies. Crime flourished, caus- 
ing whole cities to be terrorized by a new rule, the rule of violence 
and intimidation. Worst of all, America became a nation of law- 
breakers with a reputation for crime that made the name of one of 
its greatest cities a byword for vice. 

But Wilson, in the meantime, had been succeeded by a man who 
might well have stood as the symbol for the dawning era, Warren 
Harding, handsome, easygoing, unscrupulous, a pagan against the 
Christian idealist whom his followers saw sinking into private life, 
a broken, tragic figure whose most cherished aim, the Covenant of 
the League of Nations, his vision of a practical internationaUsm, he 
had to recognize as chimera. 

Indeed, from 1920 on, the nation revealed itself strongly isolation- 
ist, with a growing mistrust of foreign elements which it proceeded 
to keep out by severe restrictions in immigration. Whatever was not 
American was suspect, especially since the Russian Revolution in 
1917 which gave a resurgence of hope to radical and labor groups 
everywhere. In spite of the fact that the war was over, measures 
that had been found necessary during those trying times were still 
being enforced. Strikes were ruthlessly crushed and censorship 
under Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer reached a peak of terror 


in what was accurately described as his "war on the Reds." Under 
his direction, suspected radicals were rounded up, imprisoned, and 
made to confess incredible plots under the persuasion of the third 
degree. It was therefore scarcely surprising that the post-office offi- 
cials often intercepted bombs neatly packaged and addressed to the 
Attorney General. But there was going to be no Red agitation in 
the United States if the authorities could help it, and it must be said 
they did their best. 

Ole Hanson, "the fighting mayor," turned literary for the emer- 
gency and early in 1920 issued a handbook, Americanism Versus 
Bolshevism, in which he demonstrated how he had nipped the 
I.W.W. revolution in the bud, established the connection between 
Bolshevism and the I.W.W.'s of America, and outlined a method 
for exterminating such subversive activities. 

The climax of the Red scare came, however, when two Italians 
were arrested after a payroll robbery in South Braintree, Massa- 
chusetts (April, 1920), which resulted in the death of two men. 
There was nothing against the suspects, Niccolo Sacco and Barto- 
lomeo Vanzetti, except that they were poor, foreign, and active in 
the working-class movement; but from the beginning, although the 
robbery pointed to the Morelli gang, theirs was a lost cause, tried in 
the neighborhood and in the fever of intolerance of the Salem of 
1692. For seven years groups of radicals and intellectuals kept the 
case before the conscience of the nation; but the rest of the people 
were too busy watching their rising stocks to give any thought to 
the fate of a fish peddler and a poor cobbler who were executed in 
August, 1927, their only obituaries, besides the screaming headlines, 
their own moving protestations of innocence and the play, Gods of 
the Lightning, written in 1928 by Maxwell Anderson and Harold 
Hickerson. For years the fate of the two victims of a fanatical jus- 
tice kept haunting the mind of Anderson who made it again the 
underlying theme of one of his finest poetic dramas, Winterset. 

It is not the least of history's little ironies that so dark a tragedy 
should have been enacted during what has now come to be known 
as the Jazz Age. It was, however, only one of the incongruities of a 
period rich in neuroses, sensational crimes, and transvalued values. 
Perhaps it was F. Scott Fitzgerald who gave the era its name. At 


any rate he, more vividly than any other writer, captured it in his 
novels and short stories which followed one another with the speed 
that characterized the age itself. This Side of Paradise, published in 
1920, came as a self-revealing flash to the demoralized post-war gen- 
eration. Avidly everyone read it, finding compensation in its honesty 
for the unpleasantness of its truths. Soon afterward Fitzgerald is- 
sued a volume of short stories. The Jazz Age, and then another 
novel. The Beautiful and Damned, epitomizing in its title the tragic 
quality and spiritual stagnation of those who had come to maturity 
during the years of transition, before old standards had quite died 
and new ones taken their place. 

The Waste Land 

However, the evangel of the writers who were to express the 
darker and deeper values of their era was contained in T. S. Eliot's 
poem, The Waste Land, which delivered its disheartening prophecy 
in 1923. Eliot is the modern Prometheus in verse, with the differ- 
ence that whereas the Prometheus of legend plucked his fire from 
the gods, Eliot kindles his own to show his generation where true 
poetry lies: if anywhere, certainly not in the passive imitation of 
past achievement. "It is exactly as wasteful for a poet to do what 
has been done already, as for a biologist to rediscover Mendel's dis- 
coveries." Accordingly he lighted his own way to new goals, leaving 
it to others to follow in his tracks, too often through obscurity but 
never without reward. The Waste Land came on the waiting mo- 
ment, giving a name both to a condition in the external world and 
to the aridity he found in the soul of man. The individual of the 
past was dead; a race of mechanical puppets had taken his place. 
Love, that spiritual resurrection which in nature wrought its miracle 
with every spring, has lost all meaning as passion has been degraded 
or slain. Religion has become a form of crystal gazing. No longer do 
beauty and art exist as sufficient unto themselves, but to serve some 
debasing, practical need. In vain will the modern Galahad seek the 
chalice of the Resurrection; at the end of his half-hearted pilgrimage 
he will find the temple dark. 

The Waste Land has had an enormous influence, for like the ro- 
mantic revolt of Byron after Europe had been bled white by the 


Napoleonic wars, Eliot's spiritual pessimism found its followers 
among the weary and disenchanted, the futilitarians who looked on 
life, found it not good, and made a cult of their despair, instead of 
hurling their revolt in the world's face as their predecessors had 
done. Despising their times, they either withdrew into themselves or 
Hved in the past and the future. Some strove by changing their 
locale to break the curse of a loathed civilization. 

Thus for nearly a decade after the armistice, poets and novelists 
picked up their typewriters and climbed the nearest gangplank in 
quest of those fresh fields and pastures new which, unfortunately, 
never succeeded in reviving the spirits of their dejected Pegasus. 
Tahiti, Provence, Southern Italy, Majorca, Mexico, the Pacific 
coast — somehow, wherever they went, the grass shrivelled under 
their feet to the vast, arid stretches of the Waste Land. Of the poets 
one only, Robinson Jeffers, made that wilderness bloom again, but 
with bitter and violent fruit, the dragon's teeth he sowed from his 
worship of the primitive past bringing forth no spiritual nourish- 
ment but only the harvest of death. For a long time, well into the 
1930's, many writers lingered in the Waste Land, some penetrating 
more deeply into the desert of pessimism and despair, a few, like 
Archibald MacLeish, finding their way out in the revolutionary 

For still another post-war group, no spot on the face of the earth, 
not even the Waste Land, offered foothold. They were the intransi- 
gently disillusioned, those who after overcoming their sense of furi- 
ous impotence against the nightmare and shell shock of an effete 
civilization, determined to take revenge upon it. Chaos was every- 
where; even the reaHty in which they had been taught to believe 
had broken down. Some, like the German Remarque in his All 
Quiet on the Western Front and the still sadder Three Comrades, 
turned that fury of impotence against war which he blamed as the 
cause for the surrounding gloom. Others rationalized it into a re- 
current malady of the century which threw o£F its ills for those 
recoveries that make for progress. One thing was definite. The 
world had to be built anew and life lived so that every moment 
counted — to atone, it may be, for the millions of lives to which the 
war had given only the supreme moment of death. 


The Surrealist Kevolution 

In the cult of the Futurists, Dadaists, SurreaHsts, or whatever 
other names they gave themselves, the moment was raised to what 
they thought an absolute, although in the previous century, when 
passion and ecstasy had been smothered in the plush o£ Victorian- 
ism, Walter Pater had already announced that gospel to the waiting 
young: "Every moment some form grows perfect in hand or face; 
some tone on the hills or the sea is choicer than the rest; some mood 
of passion or insight or intellectual excitement is irresistibly real and 
attractive for us — for that moment only." 

To the post-war worshippers it was the phrase, "for that moment 
only" that was all significant. Accordingly, they took the cinema 
with its rapidly shifting scenes and its break-up of time as the tech- 
nique to follow, and the savage beat of American jazz as the rhythm 
of their living. Einstein, much talked about and little understood, 
gave them sanction with his new philosophy of space to believe in 
the destruction of reality, and Freud further encouraged it by his 
extension of the dream. 

Although most of the modernist schools, both in literature and 
in art, had originated in the early years of the war — Marinetti's 
Futurism in 1914, and Dadaism in 1916 at Zurich — they developed 
and died in the 1920's, except for SurreaHsm, whose manifesto 
Andre Breton issued in 1924 and whose practitioners, in art espe- 
cially, are still making progress, perhaps because form, better than 
sense, can lend itself more easily to the requisite break-up. 

Tristan Tzara, a Rumanian Jew who wrote in France, is said to 
have been the father of DADA, later adopted by Louis Aragon, 
Andre Breton, Jean Cocteau, Philippe Soupault, and many others. 
Tzara it was, at any rate, who issued the manifestoes from time to 
time. "DADA is our intensity," Samuel Putnam translates. "DADA 
is life without slippers or parallel; which is against and for unity 
and decidedly against the future; we know wisely that our brains 
will become down cushions. . . . We are circus masters and go 
whistHng among the winds of fairs among the convents prostitu- 
tions theatres reaUties sentiments restaurants 
HoHiHoHo Bang Bang 


We declare that the auto is a feeHng that has coddled us sufficiently 

in the sluggishness of its abstractions and the transatlantics and the 

voices and the ideas. ... 

DADA is not madness — nor wisdom — nor irony look at me pretty 


DADA was, what it called itself elsewhere, a demolition enter- 
prise to wipe out all traces of the war. People wanted to feel them- 
selves alive, and if in order to do so they had to go mad — why 
blessed madness! Certainly no aberration could be worse than the 
insanity of war. However it was, DADA grew by leaps and bounds, 
spreading over Europe and crossing the ocean to America. DADA 
clubs were founded in Berlin and Cologne. Moscow boasted its ex- 
ponents who like Andrei Biely declared that static forms as man 
knew them would be broken, that established literary mediums 
would give way to "syncretic panoramas," and life itself be lived on 
a plane of multiple, contrasting apprehensions. In Germany DADA 
had such influence that Tzara credited it with bringing about the 
German revolution. Then DADA died and Surrealism took its 

The first number of La Revolution Surrealiste, issued by its lead- 
ers, Andre Breton, Louis Aragon, and Philippe Soupault, posed the 
startling question, "Is suicide a way out?" It was no mere shocker 
to faze the long-suiTering bourgeois. For some years Breton and 
Soupault, students of Freud, Jastrow, and Myers, had been delving 
into the mysteries of the subconscious, and from the subconscious 
veered to the investigation of spiritualism and automatic writing — 
researches which long before them had waylaid Gertrude Stein in 
her eflfort "to get to the very core of the communication of the intui- 
tion." Hers was more or less the aim of the Surrealists. "The old 
view of art is ruled out," writes Samuel Putnam, their able apolo- 
gist. "The constructive intelligence is banished and what we have 
is, rather . . . poetic incantation. . . . Art now becomes a tamper- 
ing with the powers of darkness, as focussed by the modern sub- 
conscious; and literary, or rather, poetic, composition . . . becomes 
an automatic process." 

With the revolution of the conscious or reasoning mind, it was 
but a step to the revolution of language, a revolution which derived 


primarily from the work of James Joyce whose stream-of-conscious- 
ness novel, Ulysses, had begun to appear as early as 1918 in Margaret 
Anderson's Little Review in America. 

The Surrealists, however, named as their parent the French poet 
Arthur Rimbaud, who, doubtless, had claim to the title in his scorn 
of the limited language of idea and his striving to create a strange 
and wonderful idiom that should reveal soul to soul and, demolish- 
ing the barriers of the known, reach out toward the unknown where 
alone wonder dwelt. 

Unhappily, in their attempt to arrive at the communication of 
intuition, the Surrealists ultimately became unintelligible, although 
in the sphere of painting the mind can still manage to extract some 
recognizable perceptions from Chirico's tombstones, bananas, tem- 
ples, and horses, and Dali's Dutch Temptation of St. Anthony mon- 
strosities and repeated portrayals of his (so he says) paternal 

Together with the French Surrealists both Gertrude Stein and 
James Joyce have persevered in their fourth-dimensional non-com- 
municative word-spinning. It is unfair to quote from Joyce's latest 
Finnegans Wa\e without resorting to lengthy explanations from 
the glossaries of his interpreters. But to illustrate the workings of 
that "free association" which underlies his creative process as well 
as that of less successful, because less etymologically erudite, imi- 
tators, we shall cite a characteristic passage and then forever hold 
our peace: "For if the lingo gasped between kicksheets were to be 
preached from the mouths of wickerchurchwardens and metaphysi- 
cians in the row and advokaatoes, allvoyous, demivoyelles, langu- 
oaths, lesbiels, dentelles, gutterhowls and furtz, where would their 
practice be or where the human race itself were the Pythagorean 
sesquipedalia of the panepistemion, grunted and gromwelled, icha- 
bod, habakuk, opanofi, uggamyg, hapaxle, gomenon, ppppfff, over 
country stiles, behind slated dwellinghouses, down blind lanes, or, 
when all fruit fails, under some sacking left on a coarse cart?" 

No doubt to the few who like Joyce have a knowledge of seven- 
teen languages the passage will come with the impact of some 
supernal revelation. To the uninitiate it remains, even with the 
notes meticulously compiled like the paper of instructions accom- 


panying a difficult puzzle, something this side of sense. None will 
deny the importance of Joyce in the expansion of the novel as the 
twentieth century inherited it, of his researches into the subliminal, 
and his experiments with language. In each instance he has gone 
as far as it is possible for one to go. Nevertheless, even to the intelli- 
gent reader many parts of Ulysses and much of Finnegans Wake 
remain far away and forbidding, a dark cabala, to be transmitted 
with the gift of languages and the thaumaturgy to render them 
intelligible to the elect of every generation. The rabbinate has al- 
ready been founded; the ages, if the second World War will not 
destroy life itself, will provide the succession. 

With the establishment of the various literary, aesthetic, and 
psychopathic cults, there came a flurry of magazines, more or less 
short-lived. Most of them were published by expatriates in Italy, 
France, Germany, and later Majorca. Exclusiveness marked them 
all, and snobbishness not a few. One of the earliest. Broom (to 
sweep away the past?), was printed by Americans in Rome where 
the dollar had phenomenal purchasing power. In 1922, in Vienna, 
Gorham Munson issued its rival, Secession; both were dead within 
a few years. In Paris, the EngHshman Ford Madox Ford initiated 
the Transatlantic Review, where Ezra Pound, T. S, Eliot, E. E. 
Cummings and Gertrude Stein rubbed shoulders with Wells, Hardy, 
and Conrad. Brancusi, who had yet to puzzle the New York port 
authorities on the delicate question as to whether to tax his sculp- 
tures as raw material or let them in duty free as art, appeared in 
photograph with that other bugbear of the bourgeois, the sculptor 
Jacob Epstein. 

Then came This Quarter, transition, and Ezra Pound's Exile, 
which, following the linguistic trend, arrogantly warned: "Any- 
body attempting to contribute to this periodical ought to know at 
least two languages." Until the close of the 'twenties the influence 
of the so-called "pure art" magazines made itself felt, as ivory towers 
were busily constructed and the artist removed himself from con- 
taminating realities. But an unknown and portentous reality had in 
the meantime come upon the world, threatening not only the dwell- 
ers of the ivory tower but civilization as well. 


Culture under Fascism 

In 1923, during Ludendorfl's white putsch in Germany, a nervous 
little man whose presence no one was particularly noticing, leapt 
upon a table in a Munich beer hall and fired a revolver in the air. 
Adolf Hitler was arrested and imprisoned for two years, but the 
shot from his revolver was the waking alarum of Nazism and the 
death of German, perhaps of European, culture. The biggest-selling 
book of Nazi Germany came out of that event, for in the prison, 
not yet improved by the sadistic refinements of the Nazi mind. 
Hitler began his autobiographical Mein Kampj. In Munich, he said, 
he had experienced revelation and he became a fanatical anti-Semite; 
for, he explained, the Jews had inaugurated capitalism, and then 
plotted the war that had defeated Germany. "Anti-Semitism," he 
declared, "is the key to world history." And he accordingly dedi- 
cated himself to make it. 

At that time Germany, like the rest of Europe, was suffering 
the demoralization of the war's aftermath. Berlin was a capital of 
vice. The working and the middle classes were depressed; the pro- 
fessional class was disinherited. The people at large had sunk into 
despair, Hstening for a voice that should lead them out of darkness. 
As usual the loudest voice was the one they followed, and the 
Fiihrer showed them the way. "For our liberation," he shouted to a 
famished people, "we need more than economic policies; what we 
need are pride, spite, hatred and once more, hatred." 

Pride of race became the watchword, and hatred, the method. 
The world must be saved for the Aryans, incarnate in the German 
race. Spokesmen for the racist cult sprang up on every hand, and 
the Nazi era was inaugurated, with a bow, on the political side, to 
Italy which had digressed from a frustrate proletarian revolution 
after the war, to a successful, middle-class counter-revolution that 
had placed Mussolini and his Fascists in power and converted the 
country to a totalitarian state. 

In Germany, as well, totalitarianism was established, and every- 
one now was made to toe the line. Artists and writers, if not exactly 
forced into the brown Nazi uniforms, goose-stepped to the tune of 
the Horst Wessel song. Banners, parades, brass buttons, and mill- 


tarism were the order of the day. Less learning and more mihtary 
drill were urged. "The German," cried Goring, "thinks with blood" 
— and so, to keep that blood pure, German life underwent a com- 
plete catharsis of what were considered the corrupting elements. 
Powerful Jews, and Jews not so powerful, were exiled, and their 
property and money confiscated. Literature was subjected to ex- 
amination by a special board for the detection of such pernicious 
doctrines as liberty and the right of self-assertion. 

Soon the National Chamber of Culture was formed, to which all 
writers had to belong before they were permitted to write. There 
were some courageous spirits who refused to put their intellects in 
a straight-jacket. For them there was no room in Germany. Those 
who were not exiled were placed in concentration camps. Ludwig 
Renn, the poet, was among the rebels, and was therefore impris- 
oned. Erich Miisahm was tortured to death; Erich Baron was mur- 
dered. Von Ossietsky, the Nobel Prize winner, languished for years 
in a cell that was by courtesy called a hospital ward. Many others 
vanished without a trace. A few, too old to fight, compromised; 
others did away with themselves. 

Of the old school Gerhardt Hauptmann, once a pleader for so- 
cialism in The Weavers, became a Social Democrat. Then, in The 
Golden Harp, he struck the chords for the Nazis. 

It was Horst Wessel, a leader of the Storm Troopers and a maker 
of fighting songs, who became the national saint. He sang: 

When Jewish blood spills from the knife 
Things go well again. 

The ceremonial of the death of German culture, however, was 
not celebrated until May 10, 1933. For weeks all of Berlin was in a 
fever of exaltation. Libraries and bookshops were raided with the 
sanction of the government, and the plunder was brought to Franz 
Joseph Platz. More than twenty thousand volumes guilty of con- 
taining "the seeping poison of liberaHsm" were piled up in a mound, 
and like another Alexandria, were set afire. Spinoza, Lessing, Freud, 
Thomas Mann, Heinrich Mann, had their works burned. The books 
of Heinrich Heine and Remarque, Wasserman and Franz Werfel, 
dead poets and Uving men, went up in smoke. "Jewish intellectual- 


ism is dead!" rejoiced Gobbels at the ceremony. "The German folk 
can express itself again." 

Stefan George, now dead, was the favorite writer of the Nazis 
and by them extolled above Goethe. Before the war he had been an 
aesthete who paid more attention to bindings and margins than to 
the contents of his books. After the war he appointed himself the 
inspirer of patriotic youth and produced Das Neue Reich cele- 
brating a Germany born out of blood and spirit. Man he exalted; 
woman he degraded. The new Germany was a place for heroes and 
force. Too late for peace; too late for liberaHsm. As he himself put 
it in one of his poems: 

Too late for patience and the cure. 
Ten thousand must the holy madness seize; 
Ten thousand must the holy pestilence slay, 
Ten thousand the holy war. 

In the light of present events he grossly underestimated his figures. 
As with the higher voices, so with the lesser who took up the 
chorus. Paul Ernst, Hans Johst, Gottfried Benn, all sang in the 
same strain. Even the children's books shrilled a falsetto of violence 
and militarism. From Our Army, a picture book for the babes of the 
Third Reich, comes the nursery rhyme: 

What puflEs and patters? 
What clicks and clatters? 
I know what, oh, what fun! 
It's a lovely Catling gun! 

The novel, the theatre, the radio, the films were imbued with the 
Nazi spirit. Intellect was despised, culture taboo. In Hans Johst's 
play, Schlageter, which was produced with great success, a professor 
shouts amid acclaim: "Away with the whole mess of philosophy! 
When I hear the word culture, I pull out my revolver!" 

In Italy, on the other hand, Mussolini was loud in his praise of 
culture, making large boasts that under Fascism art would flourish 
and literature have a rebirth. It is true that under his direction whole 
acres of ancient Rome have been uncovered, showing to millions of 
wistful men and women the baths and the plumbing that are lack- 
ing in their own houses. It is true that every post of vantage is occu- 
pied by a new trousered hero in marble. It is true that the arias of 


Rossini and Verdi have been almost superseded by the intolerably 
cheap strains of "Giovinezza" and "Faccetta Nera," fruit of the 
Ethiopian campaign, and that Toscanini, perhaps the greatest con- 
ductor the world has ever known, is a willing exile from his native 
land. And it is true that many books are published in Italy today. 

But what literature is being produced? D'Annunzio, the hero of 
Fiume, is dead; but as most of his works belonged to the past, 
posthumous fame can neither add nor detract from his accomplish- 
ment. Pirandello, recipient of the Nobel Prize, had preceded D'An- 
nunzio to the grave by a few years. In spite of the many honors 
heaped upon him by the Fascist government, he died a disappointed 
old man, weighed down by the knowledge that in the end he had 
failed the youth who worshipped him. In one of his last plays, When- 
One is Someone, he made thinly veiled allusions to his apostasy — 
for surely the aging poet, the Someone who is not even given a 
name, is Pirandello himself, a ghost surrounded by those who still 
come to him, for the sake of his past. The same hopelessness, the 
same weariness of having lived too long, informed his last short 
stories, whose characters, if they are to be taken as true to the society 
in which they Hved, reveal a picture of such decay and spiritual 
stagnation that utter extinction seems preferable. 

Grazia Deledda, the Nobel Prize winner for 1926, had never in 
her long life been troubled by large issues. She had no difficulty, 
therefore, in making the transition to Fascism. For a decade she 
continued to write complacently of safe things in a shaky world. 
One of her last novels, L'Argine, was so negative in quality that it 
disappointed even the partial press. 

Hundreds of books, despite a strict censorship made effective in 
1934, still come flooding the market; some of them, popular novels 
by second-rate writers, even become best sellers. Among the younger 
novelists Alberto Moravia, an Italian Aldous Huxley, has managed 
to shock the public with The Indifferent Ones and Wheel of For- 
tune, both novels of unusual talent, but so corrupt and so far re- 
moved from life as one knows it, that they might almost have been 
written in a nightmare. 

Besides works approved by the official Argus, there are published 
numerous scholarly volumes. One author, for example, will devote 


a tome to the women of Ariosto; another will do the same service 
for Dante's, while still another will try to establish once again the 
relation between a matron with many children and the sonnets of 

As for poetry, it is hardly alive. Not even the hothouse breath of 
Marinetti, from whom Mussolini learned so much, animates it any 
longer, now that he has become the mummy of the Futurism he 
created. Nevertheless books of poetry do appear, praising the Duce 
and his works or singing nostalgically of "far-off things, and battles 
long ago." The younger poets have nothing to recommend them 
because they have nothing to say. They dare not sing, as Leopardi 
and Carducci had done, of aspirations beyond the present moment. 

Culturally Fascism is like a swamp lush with many growths but 
where none may find solid ground for the feet, or wholesome nur- 
ture for the soul. If the literature of present-day Italy will be remem- 
bered, it is thanks to the work of writers like Ignazio Silone — an 

From Coolidge to Koosevelt 

While such changes were taking place in Europe as inevitable 
outgrowths of the first World War, the stringent peace, and the 
demagogic playing on mass emotion for some real or imagined 
nationalist ideal, America was experiencing transitions of her own. 
The Harding administration, terminated by the President's death 
under mysterious circumstances, brought to light such shocking 
political corruption involving officials in the highest places, that 
prosecution was the only way out. The Teapot Dome scandal alone 
jailed Albert B. Fall, Secretary of the Interior, while scores of others 
in positions of equal trust, were implicated in transactions of the 
shadiest character. 

Under President Coolidge confidence in the government was to a 
certain extent restored, but the harm had been done; spiritually the 
people looked for nothing and found nothing. Those were the years 
of Flaming Youth and the Elinor Glyn novels; of sex emancipation 
and alcohol which because it was forbidden had the added zest of 
sin; of stock-market gambling and belief in the crystal gazer, reli- 
giously consulted to propitiate the goddess Fortuna; of the sordid 


Hall-Mills and Snyder-Gray murder trials; of the Gilbert-and- 
Sullivan absurdity of the Scopes case involving the right to teach the 
theory of evolution in southern schools; of extravagant spending, 
of materialism, and moral disintegration. 

Never before, however, had the nation enjoyed such prosperity. 
Present and future looked so fair that everyone believed another 
golden age had come where unemployment was unheard of and 
the poor-house obsolete. Indeed, when Herbert Hoover made his 
acceptance speech for the presidency after defeating Alfred E. Smith, 
he declared: "We in America today are nearer to the final triumph 
over poverty than ever before in the history of any land. We have 
not yet reached the goal, but, given a chance to go forward with the 
policies of the last eight years, we shall soon, with the help of God, be 
in sight of the day when poverty shall be banished from the nation." 

The echo of his words had hardly died when the bright prophecy 
was engulfed in the reaHty of October 24, 1929, that "Black Thurs- 
day" which saw the market collapse and with it the paper fortunes 
of the people. The years of depression had come, the ten lean kine 
whose shadow none had seen looming over the fat pastures. The 
Reckless 'Twenties had given way to the Sober 'Thirties. 

When, in 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected by an over- 
whelming majority which thought that by defeating the party in 
power it would also put an end to the causes of the depression, 
there was a general expectancy everywhere, like that attending the 
advent of a wonder worker. Indeed, it would have taken nothing 
less than a miracle to restore the nation to a sound financial basis 
after the wild speculation of the Coolidge era, and the still more 
fundamental insecurity created the world over by the debts and 
obligations of the war, combined with the intensive resort to eco- 
nomic nationalism on the part of every country that had been in- 
volved in it. 

Now came the period of the National Recovery Administration 
in an eflFort to bring capital and labor together on the amicable basis 
of fair competition; of the Public Works Administration, the Works 
Progress Administration, the Federal Theatre and the Writers Proj- 
ects, that discovered new talents which not only benefited the nation 
but also brought enjoyment and enlightenment to backward sec- 


tions of the country, the CiviHan Conservation Corps, the Agri- 
cultural Adjustment Administration and other well-meaning at- 
tempts to reform conditions which, as time showed, required radical 
cures rather than temporary alleviation. 

Class-conscious Art 

For the more ardent young the solution seemed to lie, until re- 
cently, in the direction of Moscow with its practical Five-Year Plans 
and its striving for a classless society. John Strachey's The Coming 
Struggle for Power gave capitalism not much longer to live and 
predicted that the Marxist philosophy would eventually triumph. 
Idealized by the enchantment of distance, the Soviet Union appeared 
the realization of the perfect state where every man stood tall in 
human dignity, knowing there was a place for hirn in the scheme 
of things. Revolution as a means to end war by placing nations and 
individuals on a basis of equality, gained adherents not only among 
those who had experience of the 1914 debacle, but among the new 
generation to whom it came as textbook history. 

In 1933 the French writer Andre Malraux won the Prix Goncourt 
with his stirring revolutionary novel, Man's Fate, which came out 
of the uprising of 1924-27 in China when that mammoth country 
was torn asunder in the still-birth of a new social order. In it revolu- 
tion itself is the hero, a terrific force that like another, more wonder- 
ful religion, inspired man to courage, grandeur, sacrifice. Here there 
was no longer the bitterness of Hemingway's Lieutenant Henry to 
whom sacrifice summoned the picture of the Chicago stockyards; 
for revolution in Man's Fate sowed death that from the blood of 
the victims might spring the seeds of a better life on earth. The same 
fervor burned through the Russian section of Vincent Sheean's 
Personal History, illuminated like some glorious old manuscript by 
the martyr-like devotion of its young revolutionary heroine, Rayna 
Prohme. Hundreds of books — novels, biographies, first-hand travel 
narratives extolling the fruits of revolution and the nobility of the 
cause — awoke a depressed humanity which again began turning 
toward hope. 

Stirred by reports from abroad, American writers started to look 
about them and, finding home no Utopia, set about exposing social 


injustices as a first step toward the building of the classless society. 
Strike novels and novels on the conditions of the sharecroppers, 
novels of protest and books of frank propaganda filled the publishers' 
lists. In the sociological field penetrating critics hke Matthew Joseph- 
son with The Robber Barons and The Politicos and Ferdinand 
Lundberg with his America's Sixty Families revealed with pas- 
sionate zeal the evils that pedestalled the idols of the American 
market place. Nothing was too sacred to be examined in the light 
of truth. 

Out-Zola-ing Zola in reaHstic fiction, WiUiam Faulkner and 
Erskine Caldwell busily uncovered the decay of the South, Faulkner 
with the artistry of a magician in words if also with something of 
the black art; just as busily Stark Young and other lovers of the 
romantic tradition came forward piously to cover it again with lilac 
and magnolia. But the mischief had been done, for though the earth 
was smoothed and strewn with flowers, the smell of death still lin- 
gered. Even Gone with the Wind could not waft it away. 

Most wonderful of all, the Negro found his champion, the poor 
white his defender. The class-conscious Negro lifted his voice to 
speak for his race, Angelo Herndon in his eloquent Let Me Live and 
Richard Wright in proud and beautiful short stories that raised 
Uncle Tom's children from their knees to their powerful feet. 

It was now that the proletarian novel came to the fore, reaching 
its peak in John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath, beyond which in 
human sympathy and truth it is not possible to go. In it Steinbeck 
reached full stature not only as artist but as man — high praise in- 
deed, for the novel had had as precursors dozens of excellent social 
documents, ranging from Millen Brand's sympathetically limned 
etching, The Outward Room, Jack Conroy's vigorous painting. The 
Disinherited, and the mechanistic canvases of Albert Halper's The 
Foundry and The Chute. Women as well as men treated the social 
scene, producing such books as Grace Lumpkin's To Ma\e My 
Bread, Leane Zugsmith's A Time to Remember, and Ruth Mc- 
Kenney's feat of reportage, Industrial Valley. 

Of a higher order because treated with the universality that 
transcends geographic boundaries, was James T. Farrell's Studs 


Lonigan trilogy: Studs Lonigan, The Young Manhood of Studs 
Lonigan, and Judgment Day, comprising the life and death of a 
maladjusted youth in a society that had nothing but defeat to offer. 
The background of the novels is that part of Chicago in which live, 
procreate, and die the "lace-curtain" Irish, several degrees above 
the "shanty" Irish of America. But the locale is incidental in the 
social scheme, for Studs Lonigan v\^as a potential Child of Our 
Time, the juvenile storm trooper whose story was told by Odon von 
Horvath, and own blood brother to Farrell's Tommy Gallagher 
of Brooklyn, selling Father Moylan's "Christian Justice" on street 
corners, hating the Jews, and consoling himself, when he is taunted 
by his hard-working family for his fanatical crusade, with the 
thought, "Hitler had known days like this, too!" 

This brings us to the year 1939, and much had come to pass, during 
the decade, what with revolutions, wars, and more wars. Following 
the rise of Mussolini and Hitler, the Versailles dove of peace had 
quit forever its perch of bayonets, to find scarcely a spot in the whole 
eastern hemisphere to rest its weary wings. The sounds of marching 
boots echoed over Europe, Asia, and Africa; wars of conquest were 
fought and won in a glorification of bloodshed that made Musso- 
lini's son, bombing a troop of Ethiopians, liken the flying, mangled 
bodies to the opening corolla of a rose! Had not Mussolini himself 
defined the Fascist state as "an embodiment of the will to power . . . 
which believes neither in the possibility nor the utiUty of perpetual 
peace : 

Throughout the 1930's, therefore, the shadow of death has hung 
over the children of the war generation, children who are now of 
the age of their parents in 1914-18, in a far more terrible, because 
a far more desperate, world. 

Thus it is not to be wondered at that a profound consciousness 
of war and of the economic and social causes of war marks the 
work of contemporary writers as exemplified in the poems of Wystan 
H. Auden, Stephen Spender, Cecil Day Lewis and Louis MacNeicc 
in England, Paul Green's satirical war fantasy Johnny Johnson and 
Irwin Shaw's Bury the Dead in America, and the poems of Mac- 
Leish, Kenneth Fearing and their juniors Muriel Rukeyser and Ben 


Belitt. More than its elders, the younger generation is struggHng to 
break with the past, the sower of desolation. 

A world behind us, the west, is in flames, 

writes Cecil Lewis, — 

Devastated areas, works at a standstill; 

No seed awakes, wary is no hunter, 

The tame are ruined and the wild have fled. 

For them, however, the world will not end with a whimper as with 
T. S. Eliot's despairing crew. 

For years voices of warning continued to be raised after the 
Versailles Treaty, pointing out the dangers of a vindictive peace; 
but the nations, busy with self-defense, had no ear for prophets, not 
even when General Smuts cried out from his experience of two 
wars, a generation apart. "Unless a real measure of disarmament 
puts an end to the armed peace," he said in 1931, "we are making 
for another cataclysm which will be infinitely worse than the horrors 
of the Great War. . . . There will be no escape, not even for the 
statesmen and the war-makers, and the pall of death will rest over 
all. Even now the laboratories of three continents are busy with their 
deadly researches. And in due course some lunatic or criminal will 
press the button and the flower of the human race will be trapped 
and destroyed." 

The button was pressed on the ist of September, 1939. The sec- 
ond World War has begun. 

How long will it last? What will it gain mankind? These are 
questions for the future to answer, though the record of the years 
between wars has been written in blood and with unexampled 
courage. Each returned soldier who forced himself to suffer again 
the death he had survived gave his answer to the second question, 
and the answer was: Nothing. To the first, civilization, mortally 
wounded, had replied: As long as it could bleed and yet live. In- 
credibly it lived and made a painful recovery, through heartbreak 
and despair, to renewal of hope that managed to wring from the 
dread purgation some comforting spiritual truth. 

All these phases literature recorded in a few books that will live 
and in many others that served their day and are already forgotten. 


We are yet too near to gauge as enduring literature the value of any 
work o£ the period between wars. It may be that a Thomas Wolfe 
whose titanic ego was touched but lightly by the cataclysm, a Eugene 
O'Neill whose powerful explosions were of the spirit within him, 
or a Robert Frost with his ingrained conviction that the poet's func- 
tion is to observe and comment, rather than to participate in history, 
will be chosen for immortaHty above any of their contemporaries. 
It may be also, that nearsighted fame will not for a long time draw 
from obscurity the true genius of the age. 

One thing alone is certain. The day of the ivory tower is over. 
Wherever one may be, whatever one's place in Hfe, one can no 
longer be a spectator only in the war behind the war. On the intel- 
lectual front as on the field of the conflict the barricades have been 
set up. One has no choice but to take sides for or against humanity's 





David Krinkin 

Soviet commentators on world affairs, as people familiar with their 
writings may have observed, rarely mention war without making 
some pointed reference to social change. Is there any significance in 
this apparently inevitable coupling of war and revolution in the 
Soviet mind ? To explain it in terms of Marxian or Leninist political 
theory alone, would be reasonable enough, but inadequate; for this 
would omit any consideration of the experience of the Russians as 
a nation. Is this coupling of war and revolution also peculiarly 

The history of the people in the Union of Soviet Socialist Repub- 
lics exhibits this conjuncture of war and social upheaval. The mili- 
tary insurrection of December, 1825 — usually referred to as the "De- 
cembrist Movement" — flowed directly out of the Napoleonic Wars, 
when the army officers of the Tsar stumbled upon the currents of 
French liberal thought. The Crimean War left far more in its wake 
than purely military disaster for the Russias: it ushered in the eman- 
cipation of the serfs and the other social reforms of 1861. At the turn 
of the century the War with Japan brought not only defeat to the 
Tsar, but the popular Revolution of 1905. And a dozen years later, 
while the allies of Nicholas II were still fighting the Central Powers, 



Russia's autocracy had collapsed in the greatest social upheaval of 
all. Before December, 1917, the Revolution had instituted an entirely 
new regime, which announced itself to the world as a "dictatorship 
of the proletariat." 

Clearly, "war" to the Soviet mind means both "war and revolu- 
tion," for reasons of Soviet ideology as well as Russian national ex- 
perience. Little wonder, therefore, that the Union of Soviet Socialist 
Republics has been increasingly active during the past twenty years 
of gathering European tension. Little wonder, moreover, that so 
many of her interpreters have made false predictions and irrelevant 
explanations. For it is impossible to understand the course of Soviet 
international relations without at least an elementary conception of 
Soviet political theory as well as practice. In this chapter, then, we 
must investigate both the history of the new regime and the ideas 
that govern its actions. In the course of our study we shall encounter 
a variety of conditions apparently new in Western civilization as we 
have known it. We shall, at least, be in a better position to under- 
stand the international impact of the new social system whose im- 
mense population comprises one hundred and sixty-odd nationalities 
and one-sixth of the surface of the earth. 

For all practical purposes, the history of Russia is outside the 
field of Western civiHzation, for the open plain which constitutes 
European Russia fell under other influences. From the northwest 
came the Norsemen, the first dynasts of the Russian Slavs; from 
the south, the Byzantine missionary, to proselytize for the Greek 
Orthodox church; and from the east, the Asiatic despots whose 
antipathy to liberty in any Western form was proverbial. We might 
well describe the culture fostered by the Muscovite princes as a 
synthesis of Teutonic militancy, Tartar despotism, and Byzantine 
sanctimoniousness, for only occasionally and superficially did West- 
ern culture enter into the civilization of autocratic Russia. Russia's 
rulers were content to concentrate on their internal domination of 
the political, ecclesiastical, and economic life of their people. 

If, however, as the poet Pushkin remarked, Peter the Great (1686- 
1725) cut a window through to Europe, Catherine II (1762-96) 
widened this window and permitted the light of French and English 
liberal thought to shine in upon the emerging Russian intellectual 


class. Inevitably, of course, Voltaire, Adam Smith, and the French 
"Encyclopedists" became known; and another European current as 
well: German mystic idealism, which proved particularly congenial 
to the Russian nobility. But no sooner did the implications of en- 
lightenment threaten her rule — rumors of the French Revolution 
abroad, popular uprisings at home — than Catherine reverted to ar- 
bitrary despotism. And she justified her action in noble terms, theo- 
rizing over the "psychic characteristics" of her subjects who, because 
of Russia's peculiar geography and climate, were unfit for self- 
government and could prosper only under absolute autocracy. 

The military insurrection of the Decembrists, in 1825, however, 
punctured this absolutism, even though its leaders (chiefly army 
officers) were either exiled or executed. Nicholas I determined to 
eradicate liberalism in every form. To prevent any further infection 
of Westernism, he established rigid press censorship, iron discipline 
in the army, and equally firm control of the entire bureaucracy — 
even of university scholars. 

Following the Crimean War, with Russia's withering defeat at the 
hands of Turkey, France, and England, it became clear that auto- 
cratic absolutism was outmoded. The new tsar, Alexander II, re- 
laxed the repression; and under his "era of reforms," the serfs were 
"Hberated" (though left helpless economically), and certain ameliora- 
tions instituted (among them the Western system of civil procedure). 

But the revolutionary movement increased — and reaction inevi- 
tably followed under Alexander III. The press was stifled; Jews, 
dissenting sects, Lutherans, and others were systematically perse- 
cuted; efforts were made to stifle revolutionary movements. Fearful 
of revolutionaries, Alexander III was virtually a prisoner of his 
police protectors when he died in 1894. 

The last of the Romanovs, Nicholas II, inherited problems hope- 
lessly beyond his powers. Less than two years after his accession to 
power, 30,000 workers went on strike in St. Petersburg. Under- 
ground movements gained in numbers and influence. And when 
Japan defeated Russia in 1904, conditions crystallized into a revolu- 
tionary situation. Lenin remarked that the fall of Port Arthur 
spelled the beginning of the fall of the autocracy. Although Nicholas 


ruthlessly crushed the Revolution of 1905, he merely postponed the 

The World War and ''''Soviet Powe/' 

Less than two years after the outbreak of the first World War, the 
Germans had seized Poland and part of the Tsar's Baltic provinces. 
Russia's military situation w^as desperate. Her army suffered defeat 
after defeat. German artillery deluged the tsarist troops, who often 
enough lacked the munitions for a reply. Three soldiers sometimes 
had to share a single rifle. 

Millions of Russians had been killed by guns or wounds or epi- 
demics. Russia's economy, deprived of fourteen million able-bodied 
men conscripted into the army, was hopelessly incapable of its part 
in the war. Mills and factories were closing down. Labor shortage 
had reduced the harvest. People at home and soldiers at the front 
went hungry and often barefoot. The war was eating up the re- 
sources of the nation. The situation could not go on. 

While workers, peasants, soldiers, and intellectuals bitterly raged 
at the Tsarist Government for their sufferings, they were not alone 
in their cry for a change. The "bourgeoisie"^ also desired action — but 
for quite different purposes. Finding the war profitable, despite the 
slowed-down economy, they wanted to ensure its continuation; and 
there were rumors that Nicholas was preparing a separate peace. 
With a view to replacing the Tsar with his brother Mikhail Ro- 
manov, the bourgeoisie decided to engineer a palace coup. Such a 
move would not only assure continued war; it would also forestall 
a popular revolution, whose adherents were daily increasing. The 
coup, however, was never attempted. 

In January-February, 1917, Russia's economic situation grew des- 
perate. Arrangements for supplying food, raw materials, and fuel had 
fallen into acute disorganization. The supply of foodstuffs to Petro- 

■*■ To discuss the Soviet State without recourse to such terms as "proletarian," 
"bourgeois," etc., is well-nigh impossible. In a footnote to the opening pas- 
sage of the Communist Manifesto, Emile Burns says: "By bourgeoisie is meant 
the class of modern capitalists, owners of the means of social production and 
employers of wage-labour. By proletariat, the class of modern wage-labourers 
who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their 
labour power in order to live." A Handbook of Marxism, International, 1935, 
p. 22. 


grad and Moscow had virtually stopped. Unemployment was aggra- 
vated as more factories closed down. 

The Tsar was at the front when he received word of a workers' 
strike of vast proportions in Petrograd. Apprised of the amazing 
news that on February 27 the Petrograd soldiers had refused to fire 
upon the strikers, he sent detachments from the front to "quell the 
riots." Revolutionary workers and soldiers, however, greeted the ar- 
riving detachments and explained the aims of their revolutionary 
program. The detachments joined the workers. Swiftly the news 
spread from city to city and to men in the trenches. From that day 
on the rule of tsardom was doomed. 

In the ensuing period from March 11 to November 7, 1917 — the 
"February Revolution"" — Russia was under a dual rule. A "Pro- 
visional Government" and a "Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' 
Deputies" competed for control. Not until November 7, when the 
second All-Russian Congress of the Soviets^ opened, was the issue 

The Provisional Government, directed by Kerensky, Prince Lvov, 
Miliukov, and others, declared itself in favor of prosecuting the war 
to a victorious end. 

Lenin was still abroad when the February Revolution began. But 
he addressed letters to the revolutionists in which he accused the 
Menshevik and Socialist Revolutionary members of the Provisional 
Government as "traitors to the working class." Through the good 
offices of the German Kaiser, who was eager to contribute to the 
demoralization of the Russian army, Lenin was permitted to travel 
from Switzerland through Germany in a sealed train. No sooner 

^ According to the Russian calendar, thirteen days earlier than ours, the 
period began February 27 (our March 11). Hence it is called the "February 
Revolution." The Soviets abolished the old calendar shortly after they came to 

^ "Soviet" in Russian carries the double meaning of "council" and "counsel." 
The All-Russian Congress of the Soviets represented the various parts of Rus- 
sian territory and population. Needless to say, this first congress was not at- 
tended by representatives of all the national groups who participated in the 
later congresses. The Soviet was largely the work of Bolsheviks. Fourteen 
years before, the Social-Democratic Labor Party had split over various ques- 
tions of policy. Lenin demanded that the Central Committee of the party be 
composed of staunch and consistent revolutionaries. The majority of the 
congress supported him, and since that time the majority have been known as 
Bolsheviks {bolshinstvo — majority), the minority as Mensheviks. 


was he met at the Petrograd raihoad station by a host of his follow- 
ers on April 16, than he delivered a speech in which he declared the 
time was ripe for a "world socialist revolution." He called upon the 
masses to overthrow the Provisional Government, to establish work- 
ing-class control, to put an end to the "imperialist war," and to begin 
the building of socialism. Down with the war! Down with the capi- 
talist ministers! All power to the Soviets! were the Bolshevik slogans. 

The next weeks were tense with struggle. A new Coalition Gov- 
ernment, formed on May 17 under Kerensky sent troops to the front 
in the beginning of June. Not only was the army defeated; the sol- 
diers refused to fight "for the interests of the bourgeoisie" and 
demanded All power to the Soviets! 

At home the Kerensky government grew steadily weaker, as eco- 
nomic and social conditions went from bad to worse. As the Bol- 
sheviks became ever more insistent on their program, the bourgeoisie 
countered with a plan for its own dictatorship. In July, General 
Kornilov started a march on Petrograd. Not only was he quickly 
defeated but workers and peasants exerted such pressure that Keren- 
sky was compelled to imprison him. 

Bolshevik influence gained in the wake of the Kornilov conspiracy. 
By autumn the majority of the deputies in the Petrograd and Mos- 
cow Soviets were Bolshevik party members; and Lenin declared the 
time ripe for an armed upheaval: "the victory of the workingman 
is assured." The upheaval itself followed on November 7, in Petro- 
grad. The Kerensky Government fell; the "proletarian revolution" 
declared itself triumphant; and control passed into the hands of the 
Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies. 

The Evolution of the USS.R. 

On November 7, the All-Russian Congress of the Soviets opened 
in Petrograd, and immediately adopted the first three decrees sub- 
mitted by Lenin, (i) The Soviets ofFered to conclude an immediate 
peace among all the nations at war, on the basis of equality. (2) The 
Soviets abolished private property and transferred the use of the 
land to the peasants. (3) All power was given to the Soviets. The 
Congress elected an AU-Russian Central Executive Committee and 
a Soviet of Peoples' Commissars, with Lenin at the head. 


The first of the three decrees called forth no reply from either 
England or France, but on December 3 the Soviets started negotia- 
tions with Germany and Austria, and an armistice was signed two 
days later. The terms put forth by the Central Powers were severe 
in the extreme, and there was some disagreement as to their accept- 
ance. Lenin, however, regarding the peace as an opportunity for 
consolidating Soviet power and for creating a Red Army, immedi- 
ately favored acceptance. Negotiations collapsed at Brest-Litovsk on 
February 10, 191 8, and the Germans advanced toward Petrograd. 
Upon Lenin's insistence, the Soviet Government (on February 22, 
191 8) telegraphed the German Government that it was ready to sign 
peace. The following day the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed by 
both powers. The final terms, even more onerous than those origi- 
nally demanded, turned Poland, Latvia, and Estonia over to Ger- 
many; severed the Ukraine and subjected it to German control; and 
compelled the Soviets to agree to pay an indemnity. Shortly there- 
after Lenin wrote an article in which he said : 

Intolerably severe are the terms of peace. Nevertheless, history will 
claim its own. . . . Let us set to work to organize, organize, and 
organize. In spite of all trials, the future is ours. 

The trials were many and severe. England, France, and Japan 
undertook campaigns of miHtary intervention and gave aid of all 
kinds to the White Russian'* counter-revolutionists who battled the 
Red Army in a desperate effort to overthrow the Soviet Government. 
It was not until two years had passed that these external threats 
were crushed. Only then were the Soviets able to turn their full 
energies to the economic rehabilitation of the country. 

It was an immense task, complicated by every imaginable diffi- 
culty. Fundamentally, the Soviets were faced with the almost in- 
superable problem of industrializing a country which was primarily 
agrarian. Civil war and revolution had shattered industry; factories 
and plants lay in ruin; and the new ones were working poorly. 
Signs of discontent appeared among the workers. 

* The Bolsheviks regarded all anti-Soviet elements as "Whites" or "counter- 
revolutionists." The "White Russians" when used thus as a political term has 
no connection with the territorial meaning of White Russia. One often speaks 
of Great Russia (the central territory), Little Russia (Ukraine), and White or 
Byelo Russia (northwestern part bordering on Poland). 


On the "agricultural front" the problem was no easier. The rela- 
tionship between the city and village had been settled during the 
civil war in the form of an alliance between the peasants and the 
workers. The peasants had been given land as well as protection 
against the landlords and wealthy peasantry (^Iiula\s)\ and in re- 
turn the workers received foodstuffs under the so-called "surplus- 
appropriation" system. While this arrangement worked satisfactorily 
during the civil war, it soon proved inadequate. The peasants had 
to surrender all their surpluses; they demanded a sufficient supply 
of commodities in exchange. 

To cope with the situation, Lenin worked out a New Economic 
Policy (N.E.P.) as a method of temporary adjustment. Instead of 
surrendering all their surpluses, the peasants paid a tax in kind 
(fixed each year before spring sowing). Whatever was left over and 
above the tax could be sold by the peasants. This temporary return 
to the methods of the profit system helped to restore the economic life 
of Russia. Meanwhile Lenin continued to work out plans for co- 
operative agricultural societies as a transitional means from small 
individual farms to large-scale producing units, or collective farms. 

Lenin died, January 21, 1924. In the name of the Communist 
Party, his successor, Stalin vowed "to strengthen the dictatorship of 
the proletariat ... to strengthen the alliance of workers and peas- 
ants ... to maintain the voluntary alliance of the nations^ of our 
country . . . and to strengthen the Red Army." 

The year 1925 saw the inauguration of a new period of economy, 
"SociaUst industrialization." Russia needed up-to-date machinery 
for its old mills and factories; Russia needed plants for building 
machinery. In December, 1927, the Communist Party began the col- 
lectivization of agriculture: ". . . to unite the small and tiny peas- 
ant farms gradually but steadily, not by pressure but by exa7nple and 
persuasion, into large farms based on common co-operative collective 
cultivation of the soil with the use of agricultural machines and 
tractors and scientific methods of intensive agriculture. There is no 
other way out" said Stalin. 

The following year saw the first of several Five-Year Plans for 
the development of Soviet economy. Its program was accomplished 

^Eleven autonomous republics now constitute the U.S.S.R. 


in four years. Encouraged by the results of this effort, by which the 
proportion of industrial output to the total production had risen to 
70 percent, the Soviets declared that Russia had been converted from 
an agrarian to an industrial country. 

The Second Five- Year Plan, begun in 1933, was intended to com- 
plete the mechanization of agriculture; to install adequate means of 
transport and communication; and to raise the material and cultural 
level of the peasantry. Like its predecessor, the Second Five-Year 
Plan was said to be completed ahead of schedule. By the end of 1937, 
industry had attained 428 percent of the output of 1929, over 700 
percent of the pre-war figure. Agricultural gains proved enormous. 
Eighty percent of the industrial output flowed from plants either 
built or reconstructed since 1928, including such new branches of 
manufacture as aircraft, chemicals, tractors, automobiles, machinery. 

By 1939, Russia emerged as the largest industrial producer in 
Europe. "Socialist industriaUzation" had become a fact. The Soviets 
were able to concentrate on the enormous economic task of improv- 
ing the quality, quantity, variety, and distribution of products for 
their 170,000,000 consumers. 

Currents of Soviet Ideology 

"Without theory there can be no practice," said Lenin; and there 
has surely been no dearth of commentaries, analyses, and disquisi- 
tions of all kinds on the subject of Marxian philosophy. Merely to 
touch on the outstanding works would require more space than this 
entire essay; and the interpretations of certain aspects alone might 
well require volumes. Let us content ourselves, therefore, with an 
examination of some of the underlying ideas in our effort to under- 
stand Soviet practice. 

"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class 
struggles." This frequently quoted line is the first sentence of 
the Communist Manifesto, drafted by Karl Marx and Friedrich 
Engels, and pubHshed in 1848. Marx had learned much from the 
German philosopher, Hegel, whose system of "dialectics" he had 
studied with avidity. But whereas Hegel had finally arrived at a 
philosophy of idealism, Marx's study of history led him to an oppo- 
site conclusion: a materialist conception, which he embodied in th? 


philosophy of dialectical materialism. Life is motion, according to 
dialectics; and if everything moves, everything changes. "Every phe- 
nomenon sooner or later is inevitably transformed into its very oppo- 
site by the very forces which condition its existence."^ Thus, if every 
phenomenon negates itself, no institution can be absolute or of 
permanent value. Dialectical thinking excludes every Utopia. Social 
forms constantly change, because they contain w^ithin them the seed 
of a higher growth. Motion may be reduced to three elements: the 
thing itself (thesis), its opposite (antithesis), and the product of 
their interaction (synthesis). 

Marx held that all social change arises from economic causes. 
Ethical movements, cultural phenomena, folkways, religion, and the 
like may eventually be traced to the economic relations. "The psy- 
chology of society adapts itself to its economy. Upon a given eco- 
nomic basis, there inevitably develops a corresponding ideological 
superstructure." In a word, a basic change in the economy spells a 
corresponding change in the life of the nation in every particular. 
Thus, while Marxian philosophy is fundamentally economic, its 
implications and ramifications are as wide as life itself. 

To the Marxian, therefore, modern history is relatively easy to 
understand, despite its complexities. Capitalism, insofar as it freed 
man from the stultifying effects of feudal life and fostered the 
growth of technology, commerce, and the material goods, was a 
distinctly progressive force. It was a struggle of classes — as was every 
other period of history — but insofar as capitalism liberated man from 
feudalism, it was a revolutionary movement. But "every phenome- 
non sooner or later is transformed into its very opposite by the very 
forces which condition its existence" — and capitalism has not only 
outlived its usefulness; it is an obstacle to human progress, according 
to Marx. For capitalism has bred a host of contradictions; and it 
cannot solve these without sacrificing its own existence; or, as Lenin 
put it years later, capitalism is its own gravedigger. Why.? Because 
competition and the struggle for markets eventually leads to exploi- 
tation of colonials, imperialist conflict, and war abroad; and to waste 
of goods and to exploitation of men and women at home. In a word, 

® The sentences in quotation marks in this section are from Plekhanov, one 
of the first Russian expositors of Marxism. 


capitalism has developed to such a stage that it no longer can permit 
production for the universal use o£ humanity. To maintain itself, it 
must continue to exploit the masses of working people. This is an 
unreasonable state of affairs, say the Marxians, The working people 
are the real producers of the world's goods; but they are deprived of 
the fruit of their labor because of a system of economic relations 
that has no justification. The majority of the world suffers; an in- 
finitesimal minority of capitalists prospers. So long as this minority 
owns the means of production, it can keep itself in power by means 
of the state — which is merely its "executive committee." The way 
out is thus clear to the masses of the world : dethrone capitalism and 
substitute for the outmoded system of profit, the collective owner- 
ship of the means of production. Institute a dictatorship of the pro- 
letariat — of those who actually produce the world's goods — in place 
of the present dictatorship of the exploiters. "Workers of the world 
unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains" — so ends the 
Communist Manifesto. 

The first step towards achieving this socialization of the means of 
production is through the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the 
transformation of the proletariat into the ruling class. In his State 
and Revolution, Lenin concluded that "the doctrine of the class 
struggle, as applied by Marx to the question of state and of the social- 
ist revolution leads inevitably to the recognition of the political rule 
of the proletariat, of its dictatorship, i.e., of power shared with 
none and relying directly upon the armed force of the masses." 

We noted above that Marxian philosophy excludes no phase of 
life from its sphere; that it regards the culture of a nation as the 
ideological superstructure raised upon the existing economic system. 
When the Soviets abolished private property and instituted collective 
ownership of the means of production, therefore, the whole of Rus- 
sian life was transformed. Governmental agencies, based upon rep- 
resentation through electoral processes,''^ served to centralize the 
control of the nation in the Communist Party (official name of the 
Bolshevik group). Industry and agriculture, likewise, were central- 
ized and co-ordinated with a planned economic program. Agencies 

'^The real freedom of Soviet elections is a matter of continued dispute be- 
tween pro- and anti-Soviet observers. 


of education, information, and art were organized in a similar man- 
ner. In a word, every Russian institution became subordinate to the 
proletarian dictatorship, vested in the Communist Party. 

Marked changes appeared on the countenance of the Russian 
nation. Woman, having become man's "equal," and therefore a 
producing unit in Soviet economy, no longer was limited to child- 
bearing and the home. Vast changes in the family, the home, di- 
vorce, the relations between parents and children, etc., inevitably 
followed; (though sociologists have observed a "swinging of the 
pendulum" from extreme experimentation to stability along West- 
ern lines). The effect upon art, literature, music, and the theatre 
has been enormous; for the Soviet view of all cultural expressions as 
propagandist in effect has inevitably brought questions of ideology, 
class prejudice, etc., etc., into fields that had hitherto been largely 
exempt from the forums of politics. "Socialist realism," a new kind 
of artistic orientation, promulgated its tenets. Industry likewise de- 
veloped cultural discussion. Such ideas as "socialist emulation" and 
"stakhanovism" appeared.^ One could multiply the list, for it is as 
numerous as the institutions of Soviet life. But the net result would 
be what we have already observed: the subjugation of all divisions 
of existence to the dictatorship of the proletariat. 

For the U.S.S.R. is a monolithic state in that the life of the nation 
converges to the central purpose of collective economy. As such, it 
controls civil liberties, education, art, literature, industry — every 
agency of civil and economic life in order to promote the proletarian 
dictatorship. Not with concealment but with the frankest avowal 
does it set to work to eradicate everything and anything counter to 
the basic purpose. The techniques of control vary with the problem; 
but essentially the difference is secondary between the "political 
guidance" of the theatre and music and the "purging" of army gen- 

®The Soviets define socialist realism as an artistic presentation of life in a 
system governed by socialist principles. In an effort to avoid any implication 
of competition, the Soviets have coined the term socialist e7iiulatio77. Stakhanov- 
ism originated from the name of a worker who made an unusual record in 
production; it may be defined as "voluntary speed-up." The Russians consider 
stakhanovism as a morally elevating factor, insisting upon its difference from 
speed-up in capitalist production. Stakhanovists, however, are materially re- 
warded for their superiority. A Russian "worker" is any "producing person," 
whether factory manager, hod carrier, housewife, street cleaner, or professor. 


erals charged with treasonous plotting on behalf of enemy nations. 
While the "political guidance" of the arts was bitterly denounced in 
America as "repressing creative arts" and the "stifling of the free 
imagination," the Soviets scorned this criticism of their actions as 
"weak-kneed liberalism," and insisted that all art is censored — that 
in "bourgeois democracies" the dictates of the market are no less 
repressing and stifling than the frank political guidance of Soviet 
policy. To the horrified outcries from "bourgeois democracies" 
which greeted the purge of the Russian generals, the Soviets replied 
that the proletarian dictatorship must crush every threat to its ex- 
istence; that treason deserves to be punished by death. We could 
expand the list of Soviet actions which have evoked every variety of 
indignation from other nations, but they would merely confirm the 
implications of the above cases: namely, that a moral code utterly 
different from Western morality has arisen from the new economic 
base. The gulf between Soviet morahty and Western morality is not 
only responsible for the frequent failure of the Russians and Ameri- 
cans, for example, to approve or even to accept the rightness of the 
other country's actions. In times of crisis, in which the ways of hfe 
of each society are involved, this difference in morality deepens, and 
misunderstanding or disapproval harden into a sense of outrage and, 
finally, into animosity.^ 

Of particular relevance is the matter of individual freedom. The 
Westerner considers the existence of a one-party democracy incom- 
patible with political liberty. "How can you call Russia a democracy 
when the Communist Party controls the country? This isn't liberty: 
it's political despotism," etc., etc. The first reply of the Soviets 

^Editor's Note: Some will argue against this application of the doctrine of 
cultural relativity. To say that Russia's internal institutions and foreign policy 
rest upon a morality different from American morality helps to explain them 
but does not justify them in terms of American morality. A similar justifica- 
tion could be advanced for any conceivable aberration of behavior. Thus the 
discussion which follows, while it may help to explain the international rela- 
tions of the U.S.S.R., cannot serve to eradicate certain judgments about the 
Soviets, which grow out of the American mores. Such judgments have fre- 
quently been expressed in magazine articles and books about the Soviets: — 
that Russia is, as regards internal organization, a tyranny of the totalitarian 
type; that it contains the defects characteristic of the totalitarian states, lack of 
liberty, bloody repression, and inefficiency; and that it is, as regards foreign 
policy, intensely and objectionably nationalistic. — ^W. W. 


would doubtless be an insistence on economic democracy as the ele- 
ment of greatest import to the individual. They might quote Stalin: 

It is difficult for me to imagine what "personal liberty" is enjoyed 
by an unemployed person who goes hungry and cannot find em- 
ployment. Real liberty can exist only where exploitation has been 
abolished, where there is no oppression of some by others, where 
there is no unemployment and poverty, where a man is not haunted 
by the fear of tomorrow being deprived of work, home, and bread. 
Only in such a society is real, and not paper, personal, and every 
other liberty possible. 

This, of course, does not satisfy the Westerner because he sees no 
reason why one cannot have economic and all other kinds of democ- 
racy at the same time. To which the Russians might reply by 
insisting that Americans enjoy political but not economic freedom, 
since unemployment and its demoralizing effects are rampant in 

The argument does not end, however, for Americans treasure 
their right to criticize the political party in power. They are less 
concerned with the relative substantiality of their freedom of oppor- 
tunity — economic as well as political — than with the fact that they 
have it. To those who value civil liberties under the American sys- 
tem, therefore, the privileged position of the Communist Party in 
Russia is both incomprehensible and inadmissible. Soviet foreign 
policy in connection with the Nazi-Soviet Pact showed beyond any 
doubt that under the Soviet system, the Communist Party leadership 
initiates government policy. American critics of the U.S.S.R. point 
to the manner in which the Supreme Soviet ratified the pact — ac- 
cording to American newspapers, without any discussion from the 
floor. Critics of the U.S.S.R., therefore, insist that Russia is not a 
dictatorship of the proletariat but of the Communist Party. And thus 
the Soviet system, to them, is not only not the "Soviet fatherland" 
but a "totahtarian dictatorship," an "oriental despotism," and even 
"Red fascism." The controversy has furnished endless material for 
magazine articles, newspaper stories, and even books; and the end 
is by no means in sight. In view of the increasing activity of Russia 
in world diplomacy, the controversy is growing ever most hostile. 


Soviet International Kelations 

We are now in a position to examine the course of Soviet inter- 
national relations. As was the case above, we do not attempt to 
judge these actions but to try to understand their motives and meth- 
ods. Just as we have not been concerned with considering the right- 
ness or wrongness o£ the Russian Communist Party, the Soviet 
system, or the validity of Marxian social philosophy or Marxian 
economic analysis, we are not now engaged in passing judgment 
upon the wisdom or the techniques of Soviet diplomacy. 

The experience of the U.S.S.R. from 191 8 to 1920, when the cam- 
paigns of Allied intervention and White Guard attacks threatened 
the country, naturally conditioned Russia to view its neighbors with 
distrust. The onerous terms of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, of course, 
aggravated their already cynical view of international "bourgeois" 
diplomacy; and never has the U.S.S.R. given anyone grounds for 
believing that it put stock in the friendliness of certain powers any 
more than in the animosity of others. In the Marxian view, a prole- 
tarian dictatorship is by definition the object of attack; for it is a 
potential threat to the political systems in capitalist nations. If the 
U.S.S.R. is a success, the working classes throughout the world may 
wish to emulate its example. The stronger it grows, therefore, the 
more it becomes necessary for rival nations to destroy it, according 
to the Marxian view. Against this background the Soviets have at- 
tempted to maintain a peaceful course, occasionally taking advan- 
tage of the rivalries among capitalist nations to make an alliance, 
only to have to abandon it when these rivalries shift. Or, in Marxian 
terms, the Soviet policy must take advantage of the "contradictions 
among the capitalist nations." 

That the U.S.S.R. desired peace is obvious from the fact that peace 
was essential to the rehabilitation of the economy and the "building 
of socialism" within the borders of its vast territory. But while work- 
ing for peace, Russia prepared for the possibility of war. Industrial 
preparations required such vast programs for self-sufficiency and 
armament, that some have thought these preparations constituted a 
virtual wartime economy. An ingenious redivision of Soviet terri- 
tory into economically autonomous units was one of the marked 


features o£ the strategic plan; for it attempted to solve the grave 
Russian problem of long lines of communication. No effort was 
spared in creating a vast Red Army. And certainly the whole of the 
country's propaganda apparatus was used to prepare the people for 
possible war. Propaganda not merely "educated" the population; it 
aimed to make politicos of the Red Army members. All in all, it 
would not be an exaggeration to say that throughout its existence, 
the U.S.S.R. has been preparing for a war which it hoped would not 

It is always dangerous to use such a word as "hope" in this con- 
nection, and yet the term is justified in this case. Since the Brest- 
Litovsk Treaty, the Soviets have concentrated on the internal prob- 
lem; to use their terminology, "on the building of sociaHsm." While 
Marxism advocates world revolution, historic Soviet policy has un- 
questionably been concentrated on the task of "building socialism" 
in Russia only. The intra-Communist Party disputes on this ques- 
tion need not detain us; for we are not concerned with the question 
as to whether or not the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R. has "be- 
trayed the working class of the world" by failing to march into 
capitaUst countries to install additional proletarian dictatorships; or 
whether the Soviets are contributing to world revolution by building 
a "socialist fatherland" whose very existence would be propaganda 
of the "Go thou and do likewise" variety. The facts that concern us 
are: (i) the Soviets needed peace for their own purposes of strength- 
ening their country; (2) they have declared to the world time and 
again that they do not desire one inch of territory belonging to 

Their activity falls roughly into three stages: (i) 1917-1934: the 
period of internal stabilization; (2) 1934-1939: the period of collec- 
tive security; and (3) the period of "neutrality" in the War of 1939. 

^'^ Editor's Note: Dr. Krinkin, of course, refers to the Soviet foreign policy 
prior to the War of 1939. After the outbreak of hostilities in Poland, the 
foreign policy of the U.S.S.R. became practically indistinguishable from that 
of Nazi Germany. The Communist Parties in various countries had much 
difficulty reconciling the "new" from the "old" line of the "socialist father- 
land"; and many comic statements emerged in the course of their attempt to 
explain the impossible. But if the Communists had difficulty in justifying the 
Soviet partition of Poland, that was as nothing compared with their task of 
justifying the bombing of Finland by the Red Army heroes. — W. W. 


igiy-ig^4: In the course of explaining the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, 
Lenin stated, January 21, 1918: "Germany, you see, is only pregnant 
with revolution; but here in Russia, a perfectly healthy child — the 
sociaHst republic — has already been born. We may kill it if we start 
a war." Peace was indeed necessary for the emergency task of sta- 
bilizing the country and of building a preparedness program. The 
Soviets therefore set about immediately to obtain both peace and de 
jure (legal) recognition. 

The task was compHcated by the fact that the Communist Inter- 
national was housed within Russian borders. How could a country 
that gives aid and comfort to an organization committed to world 
revolution, itself a member of this organization, attempt in good 
faith to maintain peaceful relations with the governments which this 
organization is committed to overthrow? The Soviets insist that this 
Comintern, being composed of member Communist Parties of vari- 
ous countries, operates independently of the U.S.S.R., and vice versa. 
While this explanation has never been quite satisfactory to the 
average American, it has nevertheless proved no obstacle to the ac- 
quisition of de jure recognition. In 1920, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, 
and Finland established diplomatic relations with the Soviets. Tur- 
key, Afghanistan, Persia, and Mongolia followed in 1921, and Ger- 
many in 1922. In 1924 most of the European powers had granted 
recognition;-^^ Japan followed in 1925 and the United States eight 
years later. 

Collective Security: ig^^-ig^g: The U.S.S.R. joined the League of 
Nations in 1934. Stalin observed that "despite its weakness, the 
League might nevertheless serve as a place where aggressors can be 
exposed and as a certain instrument of peace, however feeble, that 
might hinder the outbreak of war." Advocating the principle of 
collective security against aggressor nations. Foreign Commissar 
Maxim Litvinov, declared "War is indivisible and peace is indi- 
visible." During the ensuing five years Russia assumed a vigorous 
role in European affairs. 

The Soviets insisted on stopping the aggressions of the Fascist 

powers, who by this time had formed the Rome-Berlin-Tokio axis. 

■'^■'' Fascist Italy, Great Britain (broken off in 1927, resumed in 1929), France, 
Greece, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Austria, Danzig. Mexico and Hedjaz 
also the same year. 


Through the League of Nations Covenant, the U.S.S.R. called for 
the application of military and economic sanctions against Italy 
(Ethiopia, Albania, and Spain) and Germany (Spain, Czechoslo- 
vakia, Austria, Memel, Danzig). That instead the aggressors v^^ere 
appeased is well knou^n from the records of the Non-intervention 
Committee in regard to Spain, and Munich in regard to Czecho- 

Meanwhile the Soviets pursued an additional course for peace. In 
1935, France signed a pact of mutual assistance. Shortly thereafter 
mutual non-aggression and mutual assistance pacts were concluded 
with Czechoslovakia, the Chinese Republic, and the MongoUan 
People's Republic. But such offers were not made to "friendly demo- 
cratic nations" alone. Stahn had declared in 1934: 

Our foreign policy is one of preserving peace and strengthening 
commercial relations with all countries. . . . Those who are striv- 
ing for business intercourse with us will always receive our support. 

And two years later Litvinov stated before the League of Nations: 

We by no means object to attempts at an agreement with the most 
aggressive countries. On the contrary, we consider it necessary to in- 
vite them to take part in every international step. But we are against 
their dictating terms of the negotiations or paying them premiums 
for being so kind as to negotiate. 

And this same poHcy of peace with all countries, Fascist as well as 
democratic, was recorded in the protocol of the Franco-Russian 
Mutual Assistance Treaty.^^ No such pacts, however, materialized 
during this period. 

In April, 1939, negotiations began with Britain and France for a 
treaty of mutual assistance against a prospective aggressor (Ger- 
many). On May 31, Litvinov was succeeded by V. M. Molotov, who 
published the following announcement: 

^^ "The two governments place on record the fact that the negotiations 
which have resulted in the signing of the present treaty were originally under- 
taken with a view to supplementing a security agreement embracing the coun- 
tries of northwestern Europe, namely the U.S.S.R., Czechoslovakia, Poland, 
and the Baltic states which are neighbors of the U.S.S.R. In addition to that 
agreement, there was to have been a treaty of mutual assistance between the 
U.S.S.R., France, and Germany, by which each of these three states was to 
have undertaken to come to the assistance of any one of them which might be 
the object of aggression on the part of any other of these three states." 


While conducting negotiations with Great Britain and France, we 
by no means consider it necessary to renounce business relations with 
countries like Germany and Italy. At the beginning of last year, on 
the initiative of the German Government, negotiations were started 
for a trade agreement and new credits. Germany offered us a new 
credit of 200,000,000 marks. Since at that time we did not reach 
unanimity on the terms of this new economic agreement, the matter 
was dropped. At the end of 1938 the German Government again 
proposed economic negotiations and a credit of 200,000,000 marks, 
the German side expressing readiness to make a number of conces- 
sions. At the beginning of 1939 the People's Commissariat of For- 
eign Trade was informed that a special German representative, Herr 
Schnure, was leaving for Moscow for the purpose of these negotia- 
tions. Subsequently, the negotiations were entrusted to Herr Schu- 
lenburg, the German Ambassador in Moscow, instead of Herr 
Schnure, but they were discontinued on account of disagreement. 
To judge by certain signs, it is not precluded that the negotiations 
may be resumed. 

This public statement could hardly have escaped the notice of the 
British and French representatives in Moscow. Negotiations with 
Britain, France, and Germany continued simultaneously for some 

Neutrality: ig^g: While the Soviets were advocating collective 
security, the parties belonging to the Comintern vigorously cam- 
paigned in their behalf. The political "line" of the Communist 
Parties provided for the organization of united-front movements to 
preserve democracy and peace. They sought the collaboration of 
non-revolutionary citizens from all classes, in a campaign against 
the common enemy: Fascism. Judging from the enrollment figures, 
the united-front groupings served to crystallize the growing anti- 
Fascist sentiment in democratic countries. When the War of 1939 
broke out, however, the Communist Parties modified their "line" in 
accordance with the analysis of the war as promulgated by the 
Comintern — an analysis based upon its "agreement" with the action 
of the U.S.S.R. 

On August 19, the Soviet Union and Germany concluded the 
trade agreement which had been under consideration since June. 
Four days later, a non-aggression pact was signed between the two 
powers. The efforts in behalf of a Franco-British-Russian agreement 


had failed. However, the Soviets insisted that the conclusion of the 
Nazi-Soviet pacts in no wise precluded the possibility of concluding 
a Franco-British-Russian pact. 

During the early stages of the war, the U.S.S.R. declared its posi- 
tion. It was not only neutral; it advocated cessation of hostilities. To 
Americans familiar with the unrelenting anti-Hitler policy of the 
Communists, the Russian position appeared as a complete reversal 
of policy if not objective collaboration with Fascism against the 
British and French democracies. The Soviets, however, explained the 
international situation in the following terms: 

The actions of Chamberlain and Daladier at Munich, they reason, 
did more than appease Hitler in permitting him to acquire Czecho- 
slovakia: they were collaborations in Fascist aggression. What rea- 
son, then, is there to believe that the Chamberlain-Daladier govern- 
ments really intended to save Poland ? What preparations had they 
made for aiding the Poles? Had they shipped supplies, soldiers, 
munitions? A few months earlier Britain had been considering a 
loan of five billion dollars to Hitler. How can these actions of 
Chamberlain and Daladier be reconciled with their protestations in 
regard to the fate of Poland? Did they hope to shift the burden of 
defense to the U.S.S.R. ? If they did, they were misled, for the Soviets 
are not interested in pulling other peoples' "chestnuts out of the fire." 
Furthermore, why if they were in earnest, did the British and French 
make it "impossible" to conclude a Franco-British-Russian pact, say 
the Soviets, charging the representatives of Chamberlain and Dala- 
dier with the failure of the negotiations. 

From these statements, the Soviets proceed to deny that the War 
of 1939 is a battle for democracy against Hitlerism. As between 
Hitler on the one hand, and Chamberlain and Daladier on the other, 
there is no real choice, they insist; for haven't these British and 
French governments actually fostered the growth of Fascism ? Don't 
the records of their action in regard to Ethiopia, Spain, Czechoslo- 
vakia, etc., prove that in effect they helped the Fascists ? 

Out of all these circumstances, say the Russians, there can be but 

one course of action for the U.S.S.R.: neutrality in a conflict between 

"two imperialistic rivals for the redivision of the world and spheres 

of influence." 

We began our discussion of international relations by observing 


the cynicism with which the Russians have viewed the machinations 
of "bourgeois" diplomacy. We pointed out that the Soviets have 
never put stock in the friendhness of certain powers or in the ani- 
mosity of others. Thus, whatever course history will show the 
U.S.S.R. to have followed during the War of 1939, one fundamental 
fact will emerge : every effort will have been made to avoid entangle- 
ments of any kind which do not advance the aims of the Russian 
state, Fascism and "bourgeois democracy" notwithstanding. That 
this may involve shifts in tactics and diplomatic surprises goes with- 
out saying, for the U.S.S.R. predicates its international action upon 
the certain conviction that the land of proletarian dictatorship is the 
potential — if not eventual — object of attack by the governments of 
capitalism. The governments of capitalism, however, regard them- 
selves as the potential — if not eventual — objects of attack by the 
"homeland of world revolution." 


Blake, W. J., An American Loo\s at Karl Marx, Cordon, 1939. 

Burns, E., ed., A Handboo\ of Marxism, International, 1935. 

Cole, G. D. H., What Marx Really Meant, Knopf, 1934. 

Fischer, Louis, The Soviets in World Affairs, London, 1930. 

Hook, S., Towards the Understanding of Karl Marx, John Day, 1933. 

Kunitz, J., Dawn Over Samarkand: The Rebirth of Central Asia, Covici 

Friede, 1935. (Sympathetic.) 
Lyons, E., Assignment in Utopia, Harcourt Brace, 1937. (Antipathetic.) 
Steffens, L., Autobiography, Harcourt Brace, 1931. 
Strachey, J., The Theory and Practice of Socialism, Random House, 1936. 

Webb, Mary and Sidney, Soviet Communism: A New Civilization? 

Scribner, 1936. 
Williams, A. R., The Soviets, Harcourt Brace, 1937. (Sympathetic.) 
Trotsky, Leon, History of the Russian Revolution, Simon & Schuster, 

1936. (By Stalin's bitterest political opponent.) 


Lenin, V. I., Selected Wor\s, International, 1935-38, 12 vols. 
Lenin, V. I., and Stalin, J., The Russian Revolution, International, 1938. 
History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, International, 1939. 
Stalin, J., Marxism and the National and Colonial Questions, Inter- 
national, 1938. 
Dimitrofif, G., The United Front, International, 1938. 
The Constitution of the U.S.S.R., Workers Library, 1938. 

' THE 


Clifford Kirkpatrick 

Few words are heard more frequently in present-day America 
than the word "Fascism." In common with other words, it 
performs several functions. As an epithet it is applied by an extraor- 
dinary variety of political groups. Roosevelt and Father Coughlin, 
Earl Browder and Gerald Smith, Herbert Hoover and Leon Trotsky, 
find it a forceful mouthful of air with which to jolt the ears of their 
listeners. Since contrast and conflict are dramatic, the monstrous 
force of Fascism, formless as a thundercloud, is presented in opposi- 
tion to some force or entity shining with virtue and glowing with 
approval conferred upon it by the speaker in question. The cosmic 
dualism of light and darkness is no longer confined to theology; it 
is Fascism against Democracy, Dictatorship against our cherished 
institutions, black against white. 

The simphcity of a personal devil is similarly congenial to the man 
in the street. Why should the mind wrestle with the problem of evil 
in its plural aspects when Hitler and Mussolini can be blamed for 
everything unpleasant, from unemployment to crop failures, from 
the arrogance of officials to the catastrophe of war? A sharp mental 
picture distilled from a dozen cartoons of a scowling Hitler reaching 
with lustful hands for world domination, saves much intellectual 
effort when one is harassed by the problems of a troubled world. 



The word "Fascism," too, may stand for a contaminating miasma 
with power to taint and defile. It floats in gaseous waves across the 
Atlantic and supposedly is hurled back by the equally gaseous out- 
pourings of politicians and other saviors of democracy. In spite of all 
effort, however, its taint may fall upon a speech, a person, a book, a 
law, or a program of social action which threatens some immediate 

Admittedly, this picture of mental processes concerned with 
Fascism is extreme. Not all purveyors of stereotypes deceive them- 
selves. It is by no means certain that President Roosevelt really thinks 
of the western hemisphere as the natural abode of democratic sweet- 
ness and light. He reaHzes, no doubt, that scores of dictators more 
tyrannical than Hitler have flourished in South American countries. 
While properly concerned about Jewish persecution, he may not have 
forgotten that Trujillo, the dictator of Santo Domingo, recently 
caused thousands of poverty-stricken Haitians to be cut to pieces in a 
bloody massacre. Confusion notwithstanding, certain things seem 
clear. The majority of Americans seem to disapprove of Fascism, 
however defined. Sinclair Lewis, drawing upon events in Germany, 
frightened America with the thought that "It might happen here." 
The regime of Buzz Windrip, whether dictatorship or genuine 
Fascism, did not appeal to the American individualist desirous of 
civil liberties, at least for himself. The conclusion would seem to be 
that Americans, not bent on deceiving themselves or others, need to 
know more about the movements which brought Fascism into the 
vocabulary of every literate American. 

The Rise of Italian Fascism 

No account of the bewildering phenomenon of Italian Fascism 
can ignore the historical setting in which it was nourished. Its roots 
go down to the Roman Empire, whose ghost haunted Dante when 
he dreamed of a universal state. The Holy Roman Empire, itself 
semi-legendary, fostered the myth that Italy and Rome might rise 
again. Machiavelli taught Italians and the world to avoid squeamish- 
ness in attaining poHtical ends. Force and fraud were recommended 
as sharp tools to one who wished to rule. Yet with all the dreams of 
primacy and empire, Italians harbored inferiority feelings concern- 


ing military prowess. They suffered repeated invasion and as citizens 
of petty states sullenly or indifferently endured Austrian rule. Na- 
tional unity came later. In spite o£ the gallantry of Garibaldi and the 
political genius of Cavour, no single-handed triumph was attained. 
The power of the Church was not broken with the attack on Rome 
in 1870. Ecclesiastical loyalty continued to interfere with political 
loyalty. The house of Savoy brought no tradition of grandeur to the 
flimsy structure patched together by compromise and intrigue and 
supported by the alien powers of France and Prussia. 

While tremendous progress was made from 1870 to 1914, Italy 
never developed into a healthy, vigorous democracy. The country 
remained relatively poor; the large rural population politically indif- 
ferent, and almost a fifth of the people illiterate. There was no 
responsible ruling class such as that in England. The SociaUsts came 
near to organizing a national party of gradualistic amelioration, but 
were weakened by rival Catholic organizations among the working 
class. There was nothing dramatic in the petty poUtical activities of 
men like Crispi, Orlando, Giolitti, and Nitti. Their foreign policy 
brought little balm to the inferiority feelings which gnawed at the 
citizens of a second-rate power. True enough, the war with Turkey 
in 191 1 won the Italian Kingdom the barren wastes of Libya, but 
there was nothing graceful or polished about the aggression. It could 
not erase the memory of the 15,000 Italians massacred by the Ethio- 
pians at Aduwa in 1896. 

It was natural that in course of time a colorful nationalistic move- 
ment should emerge against this drab background. D'Annunzio 
wrote flaming poems and plays calling upon Italy to sail toward the 
world. Later his grandiose mantle was to descend upon the more 
burly shoulders of Benito Mussolini. 

With the outbreak of the World War Italy, despite her alliance 
with the Central Powers, remained neutral. For some time she stood 
wavering and uncertain. Nationalists, however, began to scream 
for expansion across the Adriatic. Liberals recalled the struggle of 
the Risorgimento and thrilled to the slogans of democracy and war 
to end war. Even some Socialists, including Mussolini, demanded 
participation. Increasing pressure was exerted upon a predominantly 
neutral parliament. D'Annunzio returned from France to inflame 


the people, and following a "radiant week" of war hysteria, Italy 
declared war on May 24, 1915. This action was to release forces which 
enabled Mussolini to ride the Fascist wave and be carried to dic- 

The Leader 

What manner of man was destined to meet his opportunity in 
post-war Italy and to lead a movement which has changed the mod- 
ern world? Benito Mussolini, born in 1883 to a blacksmith and a 
village school teacher, was heir to a revolutionary tradition through 
his volubly rebellious socialistic father. Radicals were vigorously 
suppressed at the time of Mussolini's boyhood; in 1898, for example, 
hundreds were killed in bread riots in Italian cities. In later years, 
Mussolini wrote somewhat sentimentally of his childhood poverty 
and of humiliations he suffered from class distinctions. As a youth 
he taught school for a short time; and then from 1902 to 1904 he lived 
in Switzerland, doing manual labor when he could find it and de- 
claiming against the Church and State. He appears to have been 
partly dependent upon Socialist friends and to have come in conflict 
with the law. 

The active rebellious mind of young Mussolini was nourished 
from many sources, according to accounts by himself and friends. 
Nietzsche, Sorel, Blanqui, Machiavelli, James, Bergson, and D'An- 
nunzio left their marks upon his mind. During his stay in Switzer- 
land he came under the influence of Pareto, who talked of amoral 
politics and the circulation of the elite. In 1909 he went to Trento as 
organizer and journalist, there coming into conflict with the Aus- 
trian government. He returned to Italy and acquired increasing 
prominence in the SociaHst movement, later becoming editor of the 
Avanti. He wrote violent anti-militaristic articles and was briefly 
imprisoned. With flaming violence he opposed the war of 191 1 and 
organized anarchistic and revolutionary demonstrations. For this 
activity he was sentenced to five years' imprisonment — but he served 
only five months. In the fall of 1914 the Socialist Party declared 
against war. Mussolini wavered. Enemies whom he had helped expel 
for supporting the Turkish War obtained their revenge. He resigned 
his editorship and was expelled from the party. Profoundly affected 


by this experience, he denounced his erstwhile comrades in an elo- 
quent speech, promising that he would bring a real revolution. It is 
not easy to explain Mussolini's rightabout-face from pacifism. Sev- 
eral clues seem to be helpful. His tremendous ego imperatives always 
grasped any means to an end. By nature and teaching he was a 
disciple of violence. A more sordid consideration is the likelihood 
that he was financed in 1914 by the French in order to estabhsh his 
paper, // Popolo d'ltalia. He became active in urging participation 
in the war against Austria. Finer writes : "All over the country Fasci 
di azione revoluzionaria, or Groups for Revolutionary Action, sprang 
up to agitate for entry into the war. (They were Mussolini's crea- 
tion.) Mussolini, Battisti, Corridini, D'Annunzio, Nationalists, Ir- 
redentists, university youths, moved from place to place encouraging 
new groups, speaking at meetings,"^ 

Mussolini himself did not enter the army until November, 1915. 
In February, 1917, he received a painful, but not especially dignified, 
wound from an exploding trench mortar. He left the army to play 
a turbulent role in the chaotic post-war years. 

It is not easy to evaluate the personality and character of Benito 
Mussolini. To an American journalist, he is a "Sawdust Caesar"; 
by loyal followers he is ecstatically described as a demigod. To Finer, 
the British scholar with an incomparable knowledge of Fascism, 
Mussolini is a political genius gone astray. Finer lists his qualities 
as including a profound knowledge of men, a wide knowledge of 
science and philosophy, indifference to material rewards, strength 
of will, courage, devotion to duty, industry, personal fascination, 
and a stomach for ruthless decisions.^ For Borgese, Mussolini is an 
egocentric anarchist. His very nationalism is held to put the State 
and Mussolini above law and order.^ 

Post-War Confusion 

More difficult than the evaluation of a world figure is the relating 

of a man to his time. Did Mussolini inspire, motivate, and shape a 

political movement or did he ride the waves? Would there have 

been Fascism had the steel fragments of an exploding mortar pene- 

■■^ Herman Finer, Mussolini's Italy, Holt, 1935, p. 104. 

^ Finer, op. cit., pp, 291-308. 

^ G. A. Borgese, Goliath, The March of Fascism, Viking, 1937. 


trated the other extremity of Mussolini's body? Did he focus the 
energies of the post-war years because Janus-Hke he faced in two 
directions, to the Right and to the Left? 

In exchange for war participation the Allies, by the Treaty of 
London, agreed on certain concessions to Italy. The Tyrol, Trieste, 
Sebenico, and the little town of Zara were promised, and the vague 
prospect of African colonies was held forth. The financial assistance 
which was furnished did not begin to cover the cost of the war to 
Italy. The war burden is implicit in the fact that 600,000 ItaUans 
were killed before the war ended. Italy got little reward in glory; 
the defeat at Caporetto blackened the triumph of ultimate victory. 
The Italian inferiority complex was increased rather than decreased 
by a victorious war. While liberals and veteran Socialists like Bis- 
solati wanted peace and democratic reconstruction within the natural 
boundaries of Italy, the Nationalists cried to high heaven for sym- 
bols of glory. If the war was a failure, they wanted not peace but 
more war. At the Peace Congress they demanded all Dalmatia 
and a slice of Asia Minor. Sympathy and soHdarity with the newly 
freed minorities of Austria-Hungary were ridiculed. Wilson was not 
particularly sympathetic even to the claims granted by the Treaty 
of London. In protest against the rejection of Italian demands for 
Fiume and other areas across the Adriatic, Orlando withdrew from 
the Peace Conference to the tune of patriotic cries from Italian 
Nationalists. The delegation was forced, however, to slink quietly 
back to the conference table to accept the few crumbs which were 
granted them. Fiume and Smyrna were denied. 

The seething Italian Nationalism exploded into a strange episode. 
D'Annunzio, with a little band of adventurers, marched on Fiume, 
September 12, 1919. For fifteen months he ruled this city by oratory. 
There he laid down the pattern of Fascism. He caused his ecstatic 
followers to signify assent by the raising of the right arm. This 
became the Roman, and later the German, salute. From the cries of 
his audience developed the Fascist chant. Black shirts appeared 
which had been first worn by ItaHan shock troops. Statutes were 
drafted in romantic remembrance of medieval guilds. The hint was 
given for a later Corporative State. In November, 1920, the friendly 
treaty of Rapallo was signed between Italy and Yugoslavia. Zara, 


but not Sebenico, went to Italy; Fiume became a free city. Shortly 
before Christmas the Italian Government, with a few exploding 
shells, toppled the comic-opera regime of D'Annunzio. Mussohni 
had collected money for D'Annunzio but was more interested in 
borrowing ideas than in relinquishing funds. 

Back in Italy confusion reigned. Soldiers, trained to legalized 
murder and accustomed to excitement, resented the drabness of civil 
life. An academic proletariat rebelled against the frustration of un- 
employment. The lower middle class, from which Mussolini came, 
felt itself ground between the upper and nether millstones. The 
workers were somewhat comforted by their trade unions, the Italian 
Confederation of Labor having risen in 1920 to over 2,000,000 
members. The SociaHst Party had won 32 percent of the total vote in 
1919. Disorders were common. The people resorted to direct action 
against high prices. In the spring of 1919 there were widespread 
strikes accompanied by violence. In 1920 some 600,000 workers seized 
the factories, principally in Lombardy and Piedmont. A futile 
cabinet rose and fell. The Socialist Party was weakening through 
internal dissension. 

Meanwhile the Fascist movement began to organize the forces of 
hatred, fear, frustration, and discontent. On March 23, 1919, after a 
Socialist demonstration, Mussolini called a meeting with an at- 
tendance variously reported as from 50 to 150. There the Fasci di 
Combattimento were founded, literally bundles for combat. The 
Fascists were positively in favor of half a dozen irreconcilable ob- 
jectives and negatively against things as they were. Mussolini was 
still vaguely socialistic. Overwhelmingly defeated in 1919 as an inde- 
pendent candidate in Milan, he had at that time only about 17,000 
followers.* The early program betrayed Mussolini's past, calling as 
it did for partial expropriation of wealth. There seems little evidence 
that he experienced a religious conversion from Socialism to Na- 
tionalism. Rather he chose what seemed the stronger horse. The 
horse carried him to the fulfillment of personal ambitions, perhaps 
running away with him in the process. By December, 1920, he felt 
strong enough to break with D'Annunzio. By February, 1921, he 
had perhaps 100,000 followers. The number had increased to 300,000 
* Finer, op. cit., p. 122. 


by the time of the March on Rome.^ Meanwhile a savage attack was 
unleashed against workers and their leftist groups. At the end of 
1920 the Fascists began systematically to smash the trade unions. 
Castor oil, savage beatings, and brutal murders were implements 
of the Fascist ruffians. Local authorities were intimidated. PoHce 
who had trouble with workers were inclined to wink at violence. 
The Army gave support. The Bolshevik peril, if any ever existed, 
had faded before an indifferent laissez-faire policy of the Govern- 
ment. Nevertheless the Fascists hailed themselves as the country's 
saviors. Frightened vested interests gave financial support to Fascism 
as an implement of revenge. According to Finer, "In the first six 
months of 1921 the destruction amounted to 25 Peoples Houses, 59 
Chambers of Labour, 85 Cooperative Societies, 43 Agricultural La- 
bourers' Unions, 51 Political Clubs, 10 Printing Works, 6 Newspaper 
Offices."^ GioHtti began slyly to cHmb on the Fascist bandwagon. 
In 1921, with 35 seats in Parliament, Fascism began to falter. Mus- 
solini sought to curb and discipline his ferocious, planless followers. 
A pact was made with leftist groups, which aroused resentment in 
Balbo, Farinacci and other fire-eaters. Mussolini even resigned, al- 
though perhaps assured that the Central Committee of the Party 
would refuse his resignation. The movement now took on more of 
the character of an anti-Socialist party although perhaps two-thirds 
of its members were proletarians. 

In spite of all efforts of discipline, MussoHni was carried forward 
by his unruly steed. Terrorism continued. Added to violence against 
labor unions was the subtler method of organizing Fascist unions or 
syndicates. The first of these syndicates was formed on February 28, 
1921. By January, 1922, the members numbered 250,000.^ Rossoni, an 
ex-radical from America, attempted to combine both workers and 
employers into corporations. In spite of continued disorder and 
violence, the Fascist unions were welcomed by many employers. 
Mussolini loomed more clearly through the smoke of battle as a 
defender of wealth and property. Many thought that the Fascist 
movement would run its course. If the earlier red revolutionary 

'^ Ibid., p. 131. 
^ Ibid., p. 132. 
"^ Gaetano Salvemini, Under the Axe of Fascism, Viking, 1936, p. 4. 


movement had simmered down, would not the same fate overtake 
the black? 

The March on Rome 

Such attitudes furthered the famous "March on Rome." On the 
Fascist side, demands for power were backed up by dramatic 
mobilizations of blackshirted youths and further violence against 
which the mildness of liberals was a poor defence. The Army doubt- 
less could have dispersed the black hordes but its officers had a 
brotherly respect for violence and perhaps dreamed of advancement 
in a militarized state. Mussohni had laid plans for a march on 
Rome early in October. He apparently had another brief experience 
of arrest but was released at once by a kindred spirit who happened 
to be in a position of authority. For a time it seemed that the country 
would be put into a state of siege under the leadership of Premier 
Facta. The King, however, did not support the decree. Sensitive to 
the will of the people, he assumed it was expressed by those who 
clamored loudest. Doubtless there was some fear that the crown 
might be transferred to the Aosta branch of the house of Savoy. A 
group of political leaders meeting in Milan recommended that the 
King take the easy way. 

After some consideration of a SociaHst leader as Premier, Musso- 
lini's demand for this office was granted. His March on Rome was a 
ride in a sleeping car. A few thousand Blackshirts celebrated in the 
Eternal City. This peaceful coup d'etat by connivance was expanded 
into the glamorous Fascist myth of a dramatic March on Rome. 
Many Italians looked forward to a somewhat rough-and-ready but 
fairly liberal regime which would be tamed by responsibility. 

True enough the skies did not fall after the March on Rome. A 
few non-Fascists were ejected from the Cabinet, after which the Fas- 
cist gangs were dissolved and merged into the Fascist MiHtia. The 
Nationalist Party was likewise dissolved and combined with the 
Fascist Party. This action brought a group of intellectuals into the 
fold including Rocco, the grim jurist who was to make legal any- 
thing the Fascists chose to do. While the destruction of the unions 
continued after October, 1922, Mussolini deigned to make friendly 
gestures toward the Socialist and Catholic Parties. 


The election of April, 1924, brought an overwhelming majority 
to the Fascists, owing in part to their somewhat vigorous methods 
of campaigning. There was opposition, however, in the Chamber 
of Deputies, led by the gallant, outspoken Socialist, Matteotti. This 
man, a thorn in the Fascist side, was kidnapped and murdered at 
the behest of high Fascist officials, perhaps of MussoHni himself. 
The country was profoundly shocked and, as investigations brought 
responsibility for the crime closer and closer to the Fascist hierarchy, 
a plot developed for the gradual undermining of the regime. To the 
system of interlocking fears that possessed Italians was added a 
lively fear on the part of the Duce that he might die a criminal 
rather than a political genius. The choice lay clear before him : either 
real dictatorship or disaster. He chose the former and on January 3, 

1925, publicly accepted responsibility for acts that had been com- 
mitted. He challenged the opposition to bring charges against him. 
There was no reply and thus Fascism was fastened upon Italy and 
perhaps upon the world. 

The way was now open for vigorous action. Enemies of the re- 
gime were hunted down. The murder of the Rosselli brothers in 
France followed the Matteotti affair. The attack on labor unions 
was carried to its logical conclusion. Organization after organization 
was dissolved and, according to a law of 1926, it became a serious 
crime to attempt revival under another name. The law of April 3, 

1926, provided for the voluntary organization of free de facto unions 
in addition to the official Fascist unions. (This provision was a 
means of admission to the International Labor Office.) Salvemini 
vividly describes the brutal treatment of a group of workers who 
took the law seriously.^ The associations of Catholic workers were 
likewise dissolved and on January 4, 1927, the ghost of the General 
Confederation of Labor faded away after an act of self-dissolution. 

The Fascist unions grew apace. These company unions were rec- 
ognized by the confederations of employers and were dominated 
by centrally nominated or appointed government officials. Real or 
faked attempts on the life of the Duce gave the excuse for repression. 
The pretense of electing officers was for the most part given up by 

^ Ibid., p. 25. 


1934. The trend of events strengthened the hand of the dictatorship 
working through the Fascist oligarchy. 

The Fascist Party and Its Ideology 

There is virtue in vagueness. So felt the Fascists during the early 
years of their movement. Behind the bursts of oratory lay the simple 
creed, "Get in power and stay in power!" Mussolini has been re- 
garded as a frustrated poet and philosopher. He turned promptly to 
oratory and later to the task of forging a philosophy for his move- 
ment. The Charter of Labor which appeared in 1927 laid down a 
score or more of propositions concerning solidarity, national unity, 
the glory of service, and, in essence, the totalitarian conception of a 
social order. The gospel of Fascism was expressed by Mussolini in 
an article on Fascismo which appeared in the Italian Encyclopedia 
in 1932. The article presents the totalitarian conception of the state 
which binds men into an organic whole. The will of the individual 
is to find its highest expression in the national destiny. Men are to 
be bound together by an essentially religious conception of national 
greatness. War is glorified as putting the seal of nobility upon those 
who dare to face it, Italians are called upon to live dangerously and 
to submit themselves to a chronic state of "high moral tension." It is 
interesting to note that the concept of race, often shaped into a myth 
useful for the furtherance of solidarity, seems to have been rejected. 
Ashton^ condenses the creed effectively into a trilogy of ideals — 
hierarchy, obedience, discipline. 

The Fascist Party had a constitution as early as 1921. In 1923 a 
separate one was prepared for the militia. Naturally there was much 
dissension in the early days, which gave Mussolini plenty of oppor- 
tunity to divide and rule. The trend of development was toward 
centralization, appointment rather than election, and closer identi- 
fication of Party and civil Government. The Grand Council, for 
example, was incorporated into the Government in 1928. Mussolini 
strengthened the hand of the prefects when they were good Party 
members. The constitution of the Party was occasionally modified 
by the Grand Council until by 1932 Party and Government were 
interwoven and power centraHzed even more in the hands of Mus- 

® E. B. Ashton, The Fascist, His State and His Mind, Morrow, 1937, p. 257. 


solini. Even succession to the throne became a Party matter; Musso- 
lini claimed the right to determine the successor. 

Naturally with the triumph of Fascism many ItaHans were eager 
to climb on the bandwagon, acquire Party membership cards, and 
share in the spoils of victory. There was much dispute as to an open 
versus a closed party policy. After 1925 it was more difficult to 
obtain membership. Recruiting was primarily from the youth organ- 
izations. Since 1930 acceptable young Fascists automatically become 
Party members at the age of twenty-two. In 1934 there were about 
1,850,000 adult male members of the Party — about one half of these 
had been recruited from the youth organizations. The rising gen- 
eration will doubtless contain more members from the working 
class, and thus dilute an essentially middle-class organization. Train- 
ing for leadership, however, is bestowed almost exclusively upon 
middle- and upper-class youths. The Fascist pattern includes a 
glorification of youth, but the rising generation often feels that the 
old guard is a bit jealous in the matter of retaining jobs. The Party 
is obviously an oligarchy with a semi-governmental function of 
leading, permeating the population with its ideals, carrying on 
propaganda, carrying out the spirit of the laws, and nipping heresy 
in the bud. 

At the top of the Party hierarchy stands the Duce, around him the 
Grand Council, and just below the national directorate consisting 
of the Party secretary and a handful of Fascist officials and leaders. 
Each province has a Party secretary and a provincial directorate. 
The provincial secretaries constitute the National Council. Farther 
down the hierarchy are the local groups, the Fasci, with appointed 
secretaries. Since 1934 there has been a further subdivision into 
Sectros, again divided into Nuclei. Parallel with each Fascio is a 
group of woman Fascists who concern themselves with youth or- 
ganizations and charity work. Party members pay dues and from 
these plus subscriptions a political philanthropy is carried on similar 
to that practiced by Tammany Hall. The miHtia is made up of a 
selected group of some 400,000 men who receive special favors. Peri- 
odically Party leaders assemble to hear the Grand Report from 
MussoHni. They are loud in their acclamation, are thrilled by the 
performance, and return to their home towns, there to strut like 


miniature Mussolinis. It should be noted that Party officials guided 
by past experience show great tact in causing Mussolini to steal the 
show whether or not present in the flesh. In totalitarian states self- 
seeking hypocrisy, political intrigue, and flattery are the rule rather 
than the exception. 

The Social Organisation of Fascist Italy 

Perhaps no aspect o£ Fascist Italy has attracted more attention 
than its alleged innovations in the economic sphere. The common 
belief that the "corporate state" is a new, drastic, and significant 
invention does not seem to be borne out by the facts. The early 
Fascist unions or syndicates have already been mentioned. They 
had about half a million members in 1922, including a large pro- 
portion from agriculture. With the growth of the Fascist syndicates 
and confederations came the demand that they be recognized exclu- 
sively by the employers. The Vidoni Pact was worked out in Octo- 
ber, 1926, between the Fascist Party, leaders of Fascist workers, and 
the Confederation of Industrial Employers. In exchange for the ex- 
clusive recognition by the employers of the Fascist unions, strikes 
were prohibited. According to the law of this period strikers could 
be punished with penalties up to seven years' imprisonment. In 
spite of this law about 8,000 workers were guilty of strikes during 
the second half of 1926.-^^ During this period the Fascist party sold 
the workers to the employers and the employers to the workers, 
acquiring in the process increased control over both groups. There 
was somewhat greater reluctance to tolerate a nation-wide organiza- 
tion of workers as compared with employers. The Confederation of 
Industrialists merely became the Fascist Confederation of Indus- 
trialists. The laws and decrees of 1926 likewise provided for seven- 
teen Fascist professional organizations. The principle was clearly 
estabHshed that all organizations, but especially those of workers, 
should be under Fascist control. While the laws originally provided 
for the election of union officials, in practice candidates selected by 
the Party were acclaimed. In essence labor leaders were Fascist ap- 
pointees. Theoretically this was also true of officials of employers' 

^° Salvemini, op. cit., p. 71. 


associations, but the Fascist Party was open to suggestions from 
prominent industrialists. 

Agreements as to wages, hours, and conditions of work were 
worlced out by the respective officials of employers and employees. 
The officials representing workers tended to be middle-class Party 
appointees, hence none too zealous for the workers' interests. Once 
arrived at, agreements were binding regardless of membership in 
the legally recognized organizations. By no means did all of the 
workers, for example, belong to the Fascist Unions. Salvemini points 
out that the Italian worker has about as much influence as the ani- 
mals dealt with by a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Ani- 
mals.^^ If the officials representing employers and workers fail to 
agree, the Minister of Corporations provides arbitration. If agree- 
ment is still not forthcoming, the Labor Courts hand down decisions 
that are binding. Since the judges are required to have university 
degrees, there is no reason to think that the labor point of view 
receives much consideration. 

As early as 1926 there was mention of co-ordinating and planning 
agencies which, in accordance with the idea of Rossoni, would bring 
together the syndicates and their confederations into corporations. 
The Charter of Labor in 1927 contained a score or more of aphorisms 
stressing productivity and unity within the state. Still the Corporate 
State had no corporation. According to an Act of March 20, 1930, 
however, a National Council of Corporations was established, in- 
cluding officials and representatives of the confederations. In the 
following year it was divided into seven sections covering various 
phases of economic life. Its function was largely advisory and its 
meetings infrequent. In 1930 a Corporation of the Stage was estab- 
lished. There was still more oratory than reality to the Corporate 
State. On January 13, 1934, the advent of Corporations was joyously 
acclaimed by the Chamber of Deputies. Twenty-two of these Cor- 
porations, made up of delegates, experts, and officials, were estab- 
Hshed. They were supposed to give advice, settle disputes, and for- 
mulate plans for production. Big business was heavily represented 
and even the alleged representatives of the working class tended to 
be of upper-class origin. Important decisions, for example, those con- 

" Ibid., p. 66. 


cerned with the Ethiopian War, continued to be made by MussoUni 
and the Grand Council. The Corporate State is largely a myth, even 
though the Chamber o£ Deputies has been replaced by the General 
Assembly of the National Corporative Council. 

There is a political as well as an economic side to the social organ- 
ization of Fascist Italy. In one sense everything is poHtical, but the 
politics is not that of representative government. At the center of the 
interwoven pattern of party and civil government is Mussolini. He 
is head of the Fascist Party, Leader of the Grand Council of Fas- 
cism, and Premier of the civil Government. The Grand Council, 
which received definite constitutional status in 1928, will see to it 
that they are locked together at the top of the hierarchy. MussoHni 
keeps prepared a list of possible successors to his joint office. In the 
case of his death the Grand Council would induce the king to ap- 
point a successor from the list. It is generally assumed that Musso- 
lini has designated his son-in-law. Count Ciano, to take his place at 
the helm. Mussolini is unquestionably the supreme power in Fas- 
cist Italy, although the Grand Council carries great weight, espe- 
cially in constitutional matters. MussoHni's power is perhaps best 
demonstrated by the rapidity with which he reduces the stature o£ 
any associate who offers a threat of rivalry. Even the leaders of the 
March on Rome may be pushed to obscurity by the Duce's heavy 
hand. There is little security in the Fascist hierarchy in view of the 
avowed policy of rotating office, of changing the guard that watches 
over the Fascist idea. In 1935 most of the ministers and under- 
secretaries in Mussolini's cabinet resigned at the command of the 

The Chamber of Deputies promptly became a cross between a 
gentlemen's club and a cheering section. Since 1928 the deputies 
have been hand-picked by the Grand Council. While theoretically 
a rival list might be prepared, no Italian is naive enough to take this 
privilege seriously. Under steady Party pressure, the overwhelming 
proportion of "Yes" votes tended to increase. During the later years 
of its existence, the Parliament did a little committee work and pro- 
vided loud and sugary approval of governmental decrees. With the 
tightening of the Fascist grip on Italy following the Matteotti af- 

^^ Finer, op. cit., p. 253. 


fair, almost without exception only Party members hold office. Politi- 
cal heresy is naturally a ground for prompt discharge. The king 
remains, heaped with honor but shorn of authority. His son, Um- 
berto, might conceivably be the nucleus for an ultimate shift in 

The Fascist State must find a new leader when Mussolini goes and 
prepare another generation for faithful foUowership. Every effort is 
made to capture early the hearts and minds of Italian children and 
to retain that hold. Soon after the March on Rome groups of Avan- 
guardisti were estabHshed and then in 1926 the BaHlla Institute. 
This young-people's organization finally came under the Ministry 
of Education. Boys, while still children from six to eight, join the 
Sons of the Wolf; then the Balilla, from eight to twelve; the Avan- 
guardisti, from twelve to eighteen; and the Young Fascists, from 
eighteen to twenty-one. As a rule at twenty-one they are admitted to 
the Fascist Party. The corresponding age groups for girls are the 
Piccole Italiane, Giovani Italiane, Giovani Fasciste. At twenty-one 
the girls become Fasciste. On May 24, the young people ceremonially 
enter the next higher age group. Membership in the youth organ- 
izations is voluntary. Only about half of the young people, generally 
those of the middle and upper classes, are included in these groups. 
The activities include sports, hikes, ceremonial activities, first-aid 
drill, first-aid instruction and military drill, even with the use of 
guns. On the plastic minds of these children is imprinted a solemn 
oath. The Ten Commandments of the Fascist Fighter are repeated 
endlessly to the Fascist lads. They are admonished day after day by 
teacher, book, placard, movie, and the radio to believe, obey, and 
fight. Attempts are made in Italy, as in Germany, to provide numer- 
ous centers (Casa Balilla) as meeting places for the young people. 

Naturally the family institution felt the impact of Fascism. The 
family was both weakened and pampered by the State — weakened in 
that many functions, including that of training the young, were 
taken over by the State. Certainly significant attempts were made to 
reduce infant mortality, to give assistance to mothers, and to give 
family relief. Fascism made vigorous attempts to boost the birth 
rate — the teaching of birth control was ruled a crime. Taxation was 
modified to favor large families, special privileges were granted to 


their male heads and decorations bestowed upon mothers displaying 
unusual fecundity. But despite incentives and coercion, the birth 
rate declined rather than mounted in response to an imperialistic 
population policy. 

To the average American, Fascism is almost identical with repres- 
sion. Although there are plenty of loyal Fascists, the very continu- 
ance of agencies of repression implies the lack of totalitarian 
unanimity of opinion. While some pretense is made that freedom 
of teaching exists, it is essentially freedom to agree and to obey. The 
first step to a professional career is Party membership. Teachers 
were forced to take the Fascist oath : only about a dozen independent 
spirits refused. Those who took the oath were logically bound to 
simulate loyalty by dress and public declarations. As an escape from 
painful and conscious hypocrisy, some doubtless came to accept the 
Fascist point of view to preserve their own self-respect. 

Journalists must of necessity be listed on the accepted professional 
roll. A talent for flattery is one of the best means to journalistic suc- 
cess. Books are effectively censored, not by clear-cut decrees but 
through fear of consequences which might follow overstepping an 
ill-defined margin of safety. No printing establishment can be 
opened without permission. The intellectuals, never close to the 
Italian people, were given ample chance to work out their own 
humiliation. A few bold spirits paid the price for their personal in- 
tegrity. Apparently Mussolini always retained some awe of the intel- 
lectual world and foreign opinion. When the beating received by 
Arturo Toscanini for refusing to play the Fascist hymn attracted 
attention, it was made possible for him to leave the country. 

Radio broadcasting is administered by a private company under 
government supervision. It is the voice of Fascism, of course, which 
is heard on every program. The Government regulates and promotes 
the film industry and produces numerous propaganda films, many of 
which the theatres are obliged to show. Lawyers and judges must, 
of course, be Fascists and must administer decrees violating civil 
liberties. Correspondence may be censored and spying becomes a 
virtue. A whisper may lead to imprisonment. There is scant toler- 
ance for indirect opposition as expressed through jokes or cynical 
remarks. The repressive agencies include not only the militia, but 


the prefects and the thousands of mayors appointed by central au- 
thority. In addition to the state and municipal poHce there is a secret 
pohce organization, the "Voluntary Organization for the Repression 
of Anti-Fascism."^^ Even Fascist officials questioning the need for 
repressive machinery suddenly found that they had volunteered for 
service in Ethiopia! 

Zeal to demonstrate conformity may take the form of urging 
conformity upon others. Finer quotes the warning of a Fascist offi- 
cial in regard to mode of salutation: 

Those who raise their arms in a languid manner and only half- 
way, as though suffering from rheumatism, are requested to recover 
speedily from their infirmity, so that I shall not have to subject them 
to an energetic and salutary massage. By way of friendly warning I 
would remind those who make a point of not giving the salute in 
the Roman fashion, that there descend from above, not only rain, 
snow, and roast stuffed larks, but also first-rate clouts on the head, 
warranted to restore memory, even in the most obstinate cases.^^ 

The death penalty seems to have been inflicted less frequently in Italy 
than in Germany. Nevertheless, an execution on October 28, the 
anniversary of the March on Rome, is assumed to indicate that the 
Fascist spirit is still strong. 

It is all-important but impossible to knov^^ the real attitudes of 
Italians toward the Fascist regime. According to Salvemini, during 
1924 and 1925 elections were carried out in 24 factories. There were 
only 605 Fascist votes as compared with 8,887 anti-Fascist votes.-^^ 
Have these workers since become converted ? No one knows. 

No account of a totalitarian state should ignore the fact that propa- 
ganda as well as repression upholds the social order. Force alone 
without its partner fraud could never maintain the Fascist state. 
Protected by repression, from unwelcome competition, the Fascist 
propaganda machine skillfully shapes the Italian mind. There are 
many exhibitions, such, for example, as the one which opened in 
1932 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the revolution. Visitors to 
New York's World's Fair can judge the probable high quality of the 
performance. Ceremonial reverence is paid to the memory of fallen 

^^ Ibid., p. 246. 

^"Ibid., pp. 87-88. 

^^ Salvemini, op. cit., p. 14. 


Fascist gangsters who have become martyrs of the Fascist faith. A 
new calendar has been introduced. Anniversaries are celebrated with 
pomp and circumstance. For example, on the alleged anniversary of 
the founding of Rome, the young people pass to a higher level in 
the youth organization. A Blackshirt gives a Young Fascist a rifle 
while a lad in the Avanguardista receives a scarf from a Young 
Fascist. Parades, fireworks, distribution of medals, awarding of 
titles, laying of wreaths, display of uniforms, community singing, 
dedication of buildings, and waving of banners characterize the 
never-ending sequence of public spectacles with which the Italian 
is rewarded for his loss of freedom. 

Education and propaganda become one. Children in the schools 
compete to light the flame of remembrance for the Fascist heroes. 
Mussolini stares down from every wall, the symbol and center of 
the nation that leads the world. Textbooks are filled with tales of 
loyalty, courage, and devotion. A boy hero puts out a fire, saves a 
flag, or perhaps dies gallantly with the Duce's name upon his lips. 
Little verses are recited which extol the virtue of unquestioning 
loyal obedience. In proportion as propaganda works there will be 
less necessity for penal colonies. A myth that is believed acquires 
social reality. 

The Internal Balance of Power 

There is no such thing as an absolute dictatorship nor is there a 
complete identity of interests in any social group. Always there is 
some sort of balance of power between individuals and sub-groups 
seeking to protect their separate interests. It is important but diffi- 
cult to know who in Italy is strong and who is weak, who has 
gained and who has lost. 

Certainly the workers have gained little materially from Fascism. 
Their officials have at times competed in accepting wage cuts to 
reward the business men who in turn had to swallow the revaluation 
of the lira in 1926 and 1927, In a country with a per capita income 
of about $150 a year it was not easy for workers to face reduction in 
real wages variously estimated as from 10 to 15 percent.^*' Naturally 
the economic losses of workers were offset a bit by the improvement 

^^ Max Ascoli and A. Feiler, Fascism for Whom? Norton, 1938, p. 99. 


of social-insurance arrangements, relief organization, and the recrea- 
tional organization, the Dopolavoro. 

The small business man has hardly been strengthened by Fascism. 
It is not so easy for him to get permits for his activities, especially if 
they threaten competition for the big fellows. Small insurance com- 
panies have been dissolved by regulations requiring a minimum of 
capital. Other enterprises have been forcibly consolidated. Big busi- 
ness on the other hand has enjoyed many favors, but at a price. 
Institutes were formed by the Government to serve as economic 
hospitals for the care of sick industries in danger of bankruptcy. 
But regulation, control, and even partial government ownership was 
the price that had to be paid. Since 1936 the Government has taken 
over banking, and capital levies are not uncommon. While the eco- 
nomic system is still Fascist Capitalism or perhaps Capitalistic Col- 
lectivism, the days of laissez jaire are gone forever. 

Five pressure groups may be distinguished in Fascist Italy: (i) 
the Party leaders, (2) the Government bureaucracy, (3) the Army 
officers, (4) the capitaHsts, and (5) the Church. Among these groups 
Mussolini maintains a balance of power. The Party leaders with an 
itch for glory fully shared by Mussolini drew the country into the 
Ethiopian War in spite of opposition from other groups. The civil 
bureaucracy, on fixed salaries, favored deflation through the revalua- 
tion of the lira. The Army got expansion and military equipment. 
The capitalists obtained wage cuts for their workers and a destruc- 
tion of unions and the prohibition of strikes. 

The fifth group, the Catholic Church, inevitably came into conflict 
with the Fascist Party with its worship of the State and its fondness 
for force. An agreement was worked out in 1929, but further diffi- 
culty arose concerning the education of youth. A reconciliation was 
effected in 1931 according to which the political sphere of the state 
received a broader interpretation. The Church was conceded au- 
thority over family matters. Perhaps a strain of nationahsm in a 
very Roman Catholic Church contributed to the ultimate under- 

The balance of power in Italy will doubtless be a moving equilib- 
rium. Certain imperatives of the situation point to a socialistic trend. 
War would give strength to the military group. With the passing of 


Mussolini almost anything might happen except a prompt trans- 
formation of Italy into a democracy. 

The Implications of Italian Fascism for the World 

Little needs to be said at this point concerning the impact of Fas- 
cism on other countries since this is a matter of familiar current 
history. The first grasp at glory came in September, 1923, when the 
Greek island of Corfu was bombarded by Italian guns on the pre- 
text of Greek responsibility for the murder of an Italian general. 
England took a hand. The result was a little gold, scant glory, and 
no territorial expansion for Italy. Hostile eyes were cast toward Asia 
Minor but the Locarno Pact hampered warlike activities. It was not 
easy for the proletarian nation to launch a new version of the class 
war. Time grew pressing — it had to be Ethiopia if Mussolini were 
to have his war. Heedless of economic costs and encouraged by 
Premier Laval, Mussolini rejected England's offers and launched 
the war. Then came sanctions and the supreme test of the collective- 
security principle. Civilization failed the test. EngHsh Tories offered 
their reward to aggression. Ruthlessly, Fascism blasted its way with 
bombs, flame, and gas. The spring of 1936 brought victory crowned 
not with glory but with shame. Members of the League of Nations 
felt shame for themselves as well as for Mussolini when they lifted 
sanctions on July 15, 1936, and when they heard the Fascist cat-calls 
directed against the beaten foe. Thus was the Lion of Judah thrown 
to the Christians. 

Within a few days Fascist planes were off for Spain to renew on 
a grander scale the type of internal interference that had been 
started in Austria. It was soon demonstrated that Fascism might be 
spread not only through example and propaganda but by the sword. 
Then Albania was gobbled at a single bite in Mussolini's haste not 
to be outdone by his overly apt German pupil. Italy demonstrated 
clearly to the world that Fascism breeds Fascism, that bluff and lies 
sharpened by a little extra ruthlessness are effective diplomatic tools, 
that being a nuisance commands a price, that aggression is rewarded, 
and that successful aggression prompts new aggression. Above all, it 
demonstrated that the slyness, chicanery, procrastination, and weak- 
ness of democratic countries are chickens that come home to roost. 


The Rise of German fascism 

The historical setting in which National Socialism arose has fea- 
tures in common with that of Italian Fascism. Germany, like Italy, 
had been part of the Holy Roman Empire. The dream, or perhaps 
myth, of a former unity haunted the Germany of the nineteenth 
century, as yet unforged into a strong national state. A recent but 
incomplete unity together with a remembered glory may produce a 
social stress not found in other countries. There was discrepancy, 
too, between the bureaucratic collectivism of conquering Prussia 
and the localism of the other portions of the German state as finally 
shaped by Bismarck. Collectivism and separatism were to clash 
when the common effort of the World War led not to national vic- 
tory but to grim defeat. Perhaps contrasts in the war experience 
itself may have been significant. Rarely did a nation win such spec- 
tacular victories against great odds. Having known overwhelming 
national power, and having tasted victory, the ultimate defeat was 
the more bitter to the German people. 

There is no way of disentangling or objectively evaluating his- 
torical factors. Yet certainly the philosophical and esthetic tradition 
in the German culture must bear some relation to recent events. A 
defeated German people once heard the call of Fichte. Hegel pre- 
pared the way for a glorification of the state. Nietzsche, Houston 
Stuart Chamberlain, and others nourished the idea of individual and 
racial superiority. Romanticism flourished in an atmosphere en- 
riched by medieval legends and a folk art deeply imbued with a 
simple love of all things German. A country which came to love 
Wagner could in turn come to love Adolf Hitler whose adoration 
of Wagner is well known. Italy is the other country most strikingly 
responsive to grand opera. Germany with its romantic heritage lay 
spent and broken in 1919, exhausted by its superhuman military 
effort. It was destined to have a leader whose life is more strange, 
romantic, and terrible than that of any operatic figure. 

The future ruler of Germany first saw the light of day, not in 
Germany, but in Braunau, Austria, on April 20, 1889. His father 
was a petty Austrian official who, at middle age, had changed his 
name from Alois Schicklgruber to Alois Hitler. There is consid- 


erable mystery concerning Hitler's ancestry. His father was an il- 
legitimate child who may have taken the name o£ his alleged father, 
Johann Hiedler. There may be some significance too in the fact that 
his third wife's mother was named Hitler. This third wife, Klara 
Poelzl, was the mother of Adolf. She seems to have been a person 
of ability, and deep affection existed between herself and her son. 
A psychoanalyst could make much of Hider's mother complex and 
his constant friction with his domineering elderly father. Certainly 
Adolf came to rebel against authority, or perhaps merely desired to 
have it in his own hands. In spite of the antagonism between father 
and son, young Hitler may have taken over his father's ambition 
to achieve and maintain middle-class status. Young Hitler was a 
dreamy, rather indolent lad who did not do particularly well in 
school. He tells in Mein Kampf, however, of the stimulation which 
he received from a fiery history teacher of German Nationalist views. 
We gather that his dream of German unity was early established. 
Hitler did not pass his examination, perhaps owing in part to a lung 
ailment; and after his father's death lounged about home, some- 
thing of a failure before his life began. At eighteen he journeyed to 
Vienna and applied for admission to the Academy of Art. He was 
rejected, however, and, following his mother's death in 1908, he was 
thrust into a hostile world. 

The account in his autobiography of the misery experienced 
during the Vienna years was probably not exaggerated. He worked 
at odd jobs and hungered when he could not find them. For a long 
period he lived in a men's hostel, practically a flophouse. There he 
formed an unfavorable impression of foreigners, especially of Jews. 
He worked for a time in the building trade as assistant and hod 
carrier. Clinging to his middle-class status, he argued with fellow 
workers until, according to his own account, he was threatened 
with violence. He experienced all of the antagonism of a marginal 
class against a lower class with which it refuses to be identified. 
Anti-Semitism was common among the upper classes in Vienna, 
and Hitler learned much from one Lueger, a Viennese official, con- 
cerning both anti-Semitism and the technique of manipulating exist- 
ing institution's to one's own advantage. There is an unconfirmed 
rumor that an unhappy love affair with a Jewish girl contributed to 


his hatred of the Jewish race. During his three years at the men's 
hostel he painted little picture postcards which he peddled with the 
aid of a friend. There is some evidence that he was none too honest 
in these business transactions. Mussolini may have been a frustrated 
poet; certainly Hitler was a frustrated artist. 

In 1912, Hitler moved to Munich where he made a living as a 
painter of cheap pictures and occasionally of houses. When the war 
came he was filled with enthusiasm and enlisted almost at once in a 
Bavarian regiment. He served four years as a staff messenger. He 
seems to have been a good soldier and to have earned his Iron Cross 
honestly. His later story of a single-handed capture of a group of 
French soldiers seems to be without foundation. He was regarded 
as a queer stick by his comrades; moody, withdrawn, isolated, but 
intensely patriotic. He learned something of human nature during 
the war years, developing a disdain for crude German propaganda 
efforts and for the qualities of men which make them victims of 
their illusions. He began to realize the efiFectiveness of a simple lie 
against complex truth. He was wounded and, toward the end of the 
war, was severely gassed. Blinded, perhaps physically, perhaps hys- 
terically, he was unable to see his country defeated. Filled with rage 
and sorrow, he left the hospital to meet his destiny in the post-war 
confusion of a defeated Germany. 

The Post-War Sources of Nazism 

Before sketching the rise of Adolf Hitler and the National Social- 
ist movement which he created, it seems desirable to analyze the 
conditions in post-war Germany which made German Fascism pos- 
sible. In many respects German democracy got off to a good start. 
A provisional Government was established which restored some 
semblance of order. There was enough resolution to crush the 
Spartakist uprising. This tendency to turn to the Right rather than 
to the Left in a crisis might be regarded from subsequent events as 
evidence of a fatal weakness. A well constructed constitution was 
adopted in 1919. With the aid of a general strike the Kapp uprising 
was subdued in 1920. Somehow the young republic withstood the 
humiliation of Versailles, the Ruhr invasion, inflation, and the bur- 
den of reparations. Shortly before the crisis of 1929 and following 


reparation adjustments, the future began to look a little brighter. 
Nevertheless, within four years the brief experiment of German 
democracy was doomed to an untimely end. Numerous causes were 
at work which made for ultimate decay and collapse. 

(i) The continuation of the economic blockade against Germany, 
in violation of the understanding leading to the Armistice, probably 
cost the lives of untold thousands of men, women, and children. 
Only a few Americans like Oswald Garrison Villard ever realized 
the depths of German misery. The Germans felt betrayed and their 
resurgent ideaHsm in support of Wilson and a new world was fol- 
lowed by disillusionment. 

(2) The Treaty of Versailles was imposed upon helpless Ger- 
many in the spirit of vengeance. Clemenceau and his associates 
sought to humiliate Germany and to crush her beyond the possi- 
bility of recovery for decades. The German delegates were treated 
with the utmost lack of courtesy or consideration. The Social Demo- 
crats were as bitter as any other Germans concerning the terms but 
resistance was useless. The blind fury of resentment against the 
treaty was turned against the early leaders of the German Republic. 

(3) Added to the blockade and the treaty was the occupation of 
the Ruhr in January, 1923, which brought further humiHation and 
was associated with the inflation that all but wiped out the German 
middle class. 

(4) Underlying these events was the unsympathetic attitude of 
democratic countries toward a struggHng sister democracy. Na- 
tionalism vastly outweighed any ideological fellow-feeling. Shortly 
before Hitler's rise to power a customs union with Austria was de- 
nied. Briining begged in vain for assistance to a sorely oppressed 
democracy. The stage was set to demonstrate that it is not a demo- 
cratic, pacifistic internationalism which obtains concessions but 
rather a heavily armed nationalism. 

(5) The German Republic was strangely tolerant of reactionary 
enemies from within. Numerous nationalistic armed bands were 
permitted to flourish. The Reichswehr, black and white, under its 
old military leaders constituted a state within a state. Judges and 
other officials remained in oflice in spite of obvious disloyalty to the 
government which they served. 


(6) No satisfactory equilibrium was worked out between con- 
flicting groups and classes. The powerful Junker class remained as a 
heritage from pre-capitaHstic Germany. The small tradesmen, also 
rooted in the past, were unable to compete with the leaders of large- 
scale capitalistic industries. The labor unions were also anti-capital- 
istic in the sense of opposing employers, although organized as a 
result of the capitalistic economic system. Nationalistic groups came 
sometimes in opposition, sometimes into co-operation, with pre- 
capitaHstic, capitalistic, and anti-capitalistic interest groups. Espe- 
cially significant was the plight of the lower middle class of small 
entrepreneurs which sought the security of salaried positions in in- 
dustry or government.^^ There was a rush to the universities re- 
garded as social ladders leading to a higher status. From 1925 to 
1931, university enrollment increased about 75 percent. Thousands 
of graduates were unable to find jobs; an academic proletarian lacks 

(7) The organization and activities of German political parties 
were unfavorable to the survival of democracy. Numerous, con- 
tentious, often lacking the gift of compromise, these parties at- 
tempted to use each other for ulterior motives and were consistently 
outplayed at that game by the even less scrupulous Nazis. Especially 
favorable to the rising Nazi movement was the status of German 
socialism. The Social Democrats recoiled from any decisions which 
might really menace private property. Social Democrats and Com- 
munists belabored each other even while being carried off to Nazi 
concentration camps. On the other hand, the pacifism, tolerance, 
and general mildness of center and liberal parties prevented the 
application of force while the Nazi party was still weak enough to 
be crushed. 

(8) German democracy was not dramatic. The aura of the war 
failure hung about her. It failed to develop flags, uniforms, rituals, 
and songs which would give the inferiority-ridden Germans the 
sense of belonging to no mean state. Dramatic leadership was lack- 
ing for Germans who were used to obedience and to being led. With 
the breakdown of family life during the war, the conflict of genera- 

^"^ Svend Riemer, "Zur Soziologie des Nationalsozialismus," Die Arbeit, Vol. 
9, No. 2, 1932, pp. 101-118. 


tions, the confusion of conflicting creeds, the Germans wanted lead- 
ers, father substitutes. They wanted to beHeve in a leader and, 
through him, in themselves and in their nation. Such were the con- 
ditions which, added to the heritage of pre-war days, furthered the 
revolt against reason embodied in the rise of National SociaUsm. 

The Rise of the Na^i Movement 

After his recovery. Hitler returned to his regiment stationed in 
Munich. Munich was the scene of a Communist uprising. The 
Bavarian Socialist Soviet Republic had been brutally crushed in 
the spring of 19 19 by the Reichswehr, acting under the command of 
the BerHn Social Democratic Government. The result was that the 
Reichswehr remained the force behind the civil government. Colonel 
von Epp was a power in the Munich Reichswehr. Rohm, a fellow 
officer, was active in collecting weapons for one of the many illegal 
volunteer corps. 

Hitler was employed by the Reichswehr as speaker, organizer, 
and spy. He soon came into contact with a little group led by Anton 
Drexler called the German Workers' Party. He also came into con- 
tact with Dietrich Eckart, who was concerned with imparting the 
national ideal to the dispossessed and frustrated intellectual class. 
Hitler made a speech before the German Workers' Party and was 
invited to become a member. The group contained only a few score 
members. Hitler was elected to the central committee and received 
the membership number seven. (At the present time a picture is 
popular in Germany which shows Hitler addressing an earnest 
little group. It is entitled "In the Beginning Was the Word,") 

Then came a round of speeches in which Hitler unleashed his 
newly discovered powers of oratory. Further contacts were made. 
Hitler met Rohm who was to play a momentous part and meet a 
tragic end. He also met Gottfried Feder, an engineer with crack-pot 
economic theories. The founder of the little party, Drexler, was 
driven gradually into the background. A program was worked out 
which later on was to be ignored. Hitler began to speak to larger 
crowds with perfected showmanship. Party thugs threw out hecklers 
and thus furthered a fervent atmosphere of unanimity. Hitler de- 
signed the flag and the Party emblem and to these symbols was 


added the greeting, "Heil," long used by Austrian anti-Semites. He 
bellowed to ever larger audiences his love of country and hatred of 
national enemies. While still a creature of the Reichswehr, he ac- 
quired as friends and supporters Ernst Hanfstaengl, Frau Hofmann, 
the Becksteins, Alfred Rosenberg, and Chamberlain, the exponent 
of the Aryan myth. In spite of the Kapp uprising in March, 1920, 
carried out by sections of the Reichswehr, the Social Democratic 
Government still relied upon reactionaries with machine guns. The 
rightist sympathies of civil and military authorities gave partial im- 
munity to Hitler's followers when they committed acts of violence. 
In 1920 the German Workers' Party merged with a similar national- 
istic party and the movement was now identified with the National 
Socialist German Workers' Party (NationalsoziaHstische Deutsche 
Arbeiterpartei). Contraction of the German title gives the famiHar 
word, Nazi. 

Further progress was made when Hitler acquired the Vdl\ischer 
Beobachter, which ultimately became the most important paper in 
Germany. The Reichswehr grew more active on the miHtary front 
and sought to draw in the Storm Troopers under the leadership of 
Captain Rohm. Hider's warriors were not very amenable to dis- 
cipline, however; once they had to be surrounded to force the re- 
turn of stolen weapons. In the fall of 1923, the various miHtary 
organizations were greatly excited by the capitulation of the Gov- 
ernment in regard to the Ruhr occupation. The leaders of a so-called 
fighting alliance assembled in Munich. Hitler swept them away by 
a burst of oratory and got himself made head of the entire organiza- 
tion. Rebellion was in the air. Forces of both the Left and Right 
prepared for action. 

Three men — Kahr, Lossow, and von Seisser — ruled Bavaria, and 
apparently themselves toyed with the idea of revolution. It was com- 
monly assumed that General Ludendorff would become dictator. 
Hitler was afraid that the uprising would take place before he was 
in a position to take full advantage of the upheaval. The result was 
the famous Beer Hall Putsch of November 9, 1923. Hitler rushed 
into the great hall where Kahr had been speaking and, with drawn 
pistol, dramatically announced the revolution, and himself as head 
of the national government. Hitler then frantically argued with the 


triumvirate and with Ludendorff to force them to accept the plan. 
They rather sullenly assented, each with unspoken reservations. 
The moment Hitler departed, however, his colleagues promptly left 
the beer hall. The Reichswehr officers were furious and effectively 
brought pressure on Lossow to oppose the putsch. The next day 
Hitler, Ludendorff, and other Nazi leaders, followed by a strong 
detachment of the fighting aUiance, marched through the town, 
confident that they would not be fired on by police or Reichswehr. 
In front of the Feldherrnhalle, however, the police opened fire. 
Numerous Nazis fell, killed and wounded. Hitler fell to the ground 
and somehow suffered a dislocated arm. He then fled the field of 
battle while Ludendorff marched straight ahead between the men- 
acing guns. Later Hitler told a fantastic story about leaving to carry 
a child to safety. 

The collapse of the putsch was significant in that it freed the Nazi 
Party from the Reichswehr and started a long series of interactions 
between party and army, oppositional and co-operative, which have 
continued down to the present day. Hitler had promised suicide if 
his putsch failed; arrested, he planned to starve himself to death. 
Neither resolution was fulfilled. At the trial lenient judges permitted 
Hitler to attack Kahr, Lossow, and Seisser and to gain publicity. 
On April i, 1924, Hitler was sentenced to five years' imprisonment 
in a comfortable fortress. He had been aided at every turn by the 
Minister of Justice, Giirtner, later to become Minister of Justice in 
the Nazi regime. With Hitler in prison, Ludendorff and Gregor 
Strasser took charge of the movement, but it slipped out from under 
them with reviving prosperity and a strengthened national govern- 
ment. The Reichswehr retired temporarily from politics and Rohm, 
after further attempts to build up the S.A. {Sturm abteilung — Storm 
Troopers) went to South America. During his imprisonment, Hitler 
aided by his faithful secretary, Hess, wrote his book, Mein Kampj. 

Upon his release from prison, Hitler faced a difficult situation. It 
was a hard struggle for him to restore his position as Fiihrer 
(leader). In North Germany the political activity was carried on by 
Gregor Strasser, aided by Gobbels. They were none too loyal, nor 
was Pfefler, the new leader of the Storm Troopers. Furthermore, 
the moral atmosphere among certain of the Party leaders was not 


such as to command respect from the pubHc. Strasser persisted in 
making socialistic appeals to workers, while Hitler became increas- 
ingly eager to attract contributions from industriaHsts by rightist 
pronouncements. The great strength of National Socialism, how- 
ever, lay in the fact that it had something for everybody. Above all 
it had appeal for the unclassed — those who had lost status through 
economic dislocations. Nevertheless, in 1928 the Nazis were weak, 
having only twelve seats in the Reichstag as compared with the 
thirty-two they had had in 1924. 

During this period Goring became more active in the movement 
and Otto Dietrich began to bring Hitler into contact with industrial- 
ists of the Rhineland. Hitler had obtained some money during the 
early days from Bavarian industrialists, some from White Russians, 
probably some from an American industrialist, and possibly some 
from France.^^ Further financial support was obtained by an alli- 
ance with Hugenberg, financier, owner of numerous papers, master 
of the film industry, and head of the German Nationalist Party. 
Together with other powerful figures, he was opposing the Young 
Plan. Hitler joined forces in exchange for financial assistance. Re- 
gardless of the failure of the opposition to the reparations plan. 
Hitler gained financial support and stole political supporters from 
Hugenberg. Given financial backing by the industrialists. Hitler was 
not greatly worried by the withdrawal of Strasser. Nazi Party squab- 
bles, however, were numerous. At one time payments to Berlin 
Nazis were stopped by headquarters and this nearly provoked an 
open mutiny. 

Following the electoral defeat of 1928, the star of National Social- 
ism began to rise rapidly. The business depression, the fight against 
reparations, and the deflationary policy of Briining, who came to 
power in 1930, brought misery to millions of Germans and sent un- 
employment skyrocketing to the undreamed of figure of 3,000,000 in 
1930. In that year Hitler acquired 6,406,400 votes and 107 seats in the 
Reichstag. The S.A. grew by leaps and bounds, thanks to Rohm's 
genius for organization. By 1932 it included some 600,000 men. The 
Party had about 800,000 members. Schacht, who had sensed a change 
in the political weather, opened up new supplies of money. A united 

^® Konrad Heiden, Hitler, Knopf, 1936, pp. 221-3. 


front was established with Hugenberg and the Stahlhelm (a vet- 
erans' organization) led by Franz Seldte. 

The SeiT^m of Power 

The year 1932 was a fateful one for the German people. Briining 
of the Catholic Center party was still Chancellor, but he was beset 
on every side with difficulties. Unemployment soared to 6,000,000. 
Agriculture was in a sorry plight. The small landowner was haunted 
by foreclosure. On the other hand the great Junker landholders of 
East Prussia were dipping into the public treasury to obtain Osthilfe 
(help for the East). Millions of marks were spent in this way, the 
money going frequently to those least in need. The venerable Presi- 
dent Hindenburg was identified with this class, especially after he 
was presented with Neudeck, a handsome estate which, incidentally, 
was turned over to his son Oskar to avoid the inheritance tax upon 
his death. 

The balance of party power in the Reichstag gave no majority to 
Briining. He was forced to govern with the aid of emergency de- 
crees, which, according to the Weimar Constitution, the President 
was privileged to issue in case of a national emergency. The lack 
of any bridge to the people threatened democracy and opened the 
way to subsequent dictatorship. The real power lay in the hands of 
Hindenburg and a group of aristocratic reactionaries who had his 
confidence, notably his son Oskar, von Papen, and General von 
Schleicher of the Reichswehr. The latter was a gifted politician who 
worked behind the scenes. 

Through Rohm, Hitler made contact with Schleicher and indi- 
cated his willingness to co-operate with von Papen who had been 
picked by Schleicher to succeed Briining as Chancellor. The rumor 
was whispered that Briining was an agrarian Bolshevik; in other 
words, opposed to state subsidies for wealthy Prussian landowners. 
That was enough for Hindenburg, whose growing senility enabled 
him to be controlled by his advisers. A cynical story of the period 
had it that once a man was eating a sandwich at a conference where 
Hindenburg was present. He was cautioned by a bystander not to 
leave the sandwich wrapping on the President's desk, for he would 
be sure to sign it. 


Whether senile or no, Hindenburg was quick to sense a menace 
to the economic interests of his beloved Junkers. On May 30, 1932, 
Briining was dismissed despite his services to the State and to Hin- 
denburg himself. Meanwhile, the Junkers began to give financial 
and political support to Hitler in gratitude for his action in dropping 
one point of the Nazi program calHng for a division of large estates. 

When the suave Papen took office as Chancellor, he had no more 
popular support than his predecessor, Briining. He took one im- 
portant action which opened a wide breach in the crumbling de- 
fenses of German democracy. In collaboration with other members 
of the inner circle (the Herrenl^lub), he brought pressure upon Hin- 
denburg for a decree aboHshing the Socialist Government of Prus- 
sia. The old trick of identifying enemies as foes of vested agricul- 
tural interests worked once more. Braun, the Premier, and Severing, 
the Prussian Minister of the Interior, were in a strong position. They 
had thousands of police at their command, and doubtless the trade 
unions would have struck in defense of this stronghold of liberal 
Socialism. The leaders lacked courage to make a strong stand, pre- 
ferring to have an issue for another futile and verbal political con- 
troversy. They did refuse to give up office — except to force. A hand- 
ful of soldiers met this requirement and another opportunity to stem 
the tide of reaction was lost. 

During the critical months of 1932, Nazi leaders considered vari- 
ous ways of getting into power. Rohm favored working through the 
Reichswehr and Hindenburg; Goring and others called for revolu- 
tionary action. While no mobilization of the Storm Troopers took 
place until the fall of 1932, murder, terrorism, and bloody street- 
fighting continued. The Nazi gangs fought both the Communists 
and members of the Iron Front, the militant Republican group. The 
Storm Troopers had been outlawed under the Briining government 
but retained their fighting organization. Hitler was inclined to culti- 
vate political supporters and to strive for overwhelming political 
strength. As a presidential candidate in March, he had obtained over 
11,000,000 votes and in April over 13,000,000 votes. The elections of 
July 31 brought the high tide of National Socialism as a political 
party operating under free elections. The Nazis obtained nearly 14,- 
000,000 votes and 230 seats in the Reichstag. Flushed with political 


victory, Hitler demanded the Chancellorship from Hindenburg. 
Hindenburg, annoyed by the ranting corporal, is reported to have 
told Papen, "Let Hitler mend his manners or I will appoint him 
postmaster some place v^^here he can lick my backside on postage 
stamps."^^ Hitler and Goring attempted to overthrow Papen in the 
Reichstag, but the wily Chancellor had obtained an order o£ disso- 
lution just in time. Papen had grown steadily in the favor of the 
venerable President and had no intention of giving up power in 
spite of his general unpopularity. 

In his baffled fury Hitler began to make mistakes. He had asked 
for power such as Mussolini had first possessed as Premier. That 
did not augur well for his intentions. A mobilization of Storm 
Troopers around Berlin was ordered which served no purpose but 
to arouse opposition. Hitler defended brutal Nazi murderers: as a 
result the Nazis lost 2,000,000 votes in the elections of November 6. 
Finances were in a bad state. The Nazi leaders were in despair. 
Schleicher took over the Chancellorship in December and sought 
the support of Gregor Strasser. Hitler feared the loss of support, but 
nevertheless denounced Strasser. The situation now developed into 
a duel between Schleicher and Papen. It appeared that Hindenburg 
would have to choose between Papen-Hitler or Schleicher-Strasser. 
Papen forgot all loyalty to his friend Schleicher who first brought 
him to power. At a secret meeting with Hitler in January an under- 
standing was worked out which led to a renewed flow of funds to 
Hitler's coffers from Junkers and industrialists. This brought a local 
political triumph to the Nazis which apparently caused Schleicher 
to hesitate and finally renounce his alHance with Strasser who had 
commanded some forty votes in the Reichstag. Schleicher's states- 
manlike plan for opposing the Osthilje and forming an alliance 
with the trade unions weakened his political position with the Presi- 
dent. Papen and Hitler came to terms with Hugenberg. The Nazis 
were to have three seats in the Cabinet as compared with eight for 
Papen and Hugenberg. Schleicher at this fateful moment in Ger- 
man history contemplated calling out the Reichswehr and with the 
aid of trade unions snatching a victory from Hitler's grasp. He 
lacked the resolution to do so and unwittingly signed his own death 

^^ John Gunther, Inside Europe, Harper, 1938, p. 37. 


warrant. On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler, a German citizen of 
only a year, became Chancellor of the German Reich. The Nazis, 
delirious with delight, marched with their torches forming a serpent 
of fire through the Brandenburg gate. The spirit of Potsdam seemed 
to hover over Germany — the spirit of national reunion, of order, 
discipline, and national glory. 

But the Nazi seizure of power was not yet complete. There was 
desperate need to obtain a majority in the Reichstag at the elections 
of March 5. The mysterious fire of February 27 proved a godsend 
to the Nazi movement. This fire which consumed the Reichstag 
building was promptly attributed to Communists and led to the 
decree of February 28, which abohshed civil liberties and provided 
Storm Troopers an open season for the hunting down of Commu- 
nists. At the trial of the Communists accused of the crime, it became 
clear that Nazi leaders were equally likely to have been responsible. 
A simple-minded Dutchman captured on the premises was executed. 
Gunther's theory, which seems quite plausible, holds that Nazis 
learned of Lubbe's intention to set the fire and, unknown to him, set 
the large-scale blaze which was responsible for the damage.^^ There 
is in existence a written confession attributed to a Nazi killed in the 
blood purge which may or may not be genuine. By terroristic meth- 
ods, the Nazis were able to obtain 288 Reichstag seats in the March 
elections. For a majority they needed support of the 52 deputies of 
Hugenberg's German National Party. German democracy was stag- 
gered by the decree of February 28 abolishing civil liberties. Its final 
collapse was assured by an enabling act passed by the Reichstag on 
March 24. This act permitted government by decree and could, of 
course, be renewed by a dummy Reichstag to give a continued pre- 
tense of legality. 

The Nazis were now in the saddle and with lightning speed pro- 
ceeded to bring all Germany into line with their conception of a 
totalitarian state. Hugenberg was ruthlessly discarded by June, 1933. 
Civil Service laws ousted non-Nazis, especially Jews, from govern- 
ment positions. Labor unions were dissolved, professional organiza- 
tions brought into line. By July 14, 1933, the Nazi Party became the 
one legal party in the Reich. 

=^° Ibid., pp. 48-9. 


One action remained for Hitler to perform; namely, to kick over 
backwards the ladder by which he had risen to power. This ladder 
was the Storm Troop organization led by Rohm. It had grown to a 
huge army of job-hungry men, a rival of the Reichswehr. Hitler, 
fearful of discontent, buttressed by his own S.S. organization, and 
inchned to side with the Reichswehr, launched the famous Blood 
Purge of June 30, 1934. Hundreds of Storm Troopers and more obvi- 
ous political enemies were brutally shot down. Rohm, Schleicher, 
Strasser, and Kahr — the enemy of Munich days — were among the 
leading victims. Upon the death of Hindenburg in August, Hitler 
combined the offices of Chancellor and President and obtained an 
oath of loyalty from officers and men in the Reichswehr, His blood- 
stained triumph was complete. 

The Na\i Party and Its Ideology 

After the seizure of power the Nazi Party had a closed member- 
ship of about 2,000,000. Distinctions are now made as to the period 
in which membership was acquired: membership cards with lower 
numbers imply prestige, even economic advantage. One reason for 
the success of National Socialism was its efficient hierarchical organ- 
ization. Leaders for these units of increasing size are appointed from 
above and function on the leadership principle. In the early days of 
party history members of the local groups did effective missionary 
work, often at their own expense. There is not only a geographical 
but a functional organization within the Party. Special units are 
provided, for example, to deal with finances, propaganda, or foreign 
policy. It is the policy to penetrate and lead all other organizations 
by means of Party members. For example, a few Party members 
under the leadership of Frau Gertrud Scholtz-Klink {Reichsfrauen- 
juhrerin) dominate the select women's organization (Frauenschafi) , 
which in turn controls a larger organization {FrauenwerJO, with 
some 8,000,000 members. The Nazi party is supposed to embody 
the will of the German people. 

National Socialism, like Fascism, owed part of its success to the 
lack of a rigid and specific ideology. The Nazi creed has been a 
kaleidoscopic hodgepodge, containing contributions from Eckart, 
Feder, Rosenberg, Darre, Strasser, Chamberlain, and earlier anti- 


Semitic writers. Hitler very naturally contributed the leadership 
principle. The first attempt at formulation was the twenty-five point 
program presented on February 24, 1920.^^ This program called for 
overthrow of foreign domination, discrimination against Jews, agri- 
cultural reform, breaking the "thralldom to interest," and the affir- 
mation, still reiterated, "the common interest before individual in- 
terest." Hitler's autobiography, Mein Kampf, might be regarded as 
the chief ideological compilation of National Socialism. The book 
has sold by the millions and it is a sign of political good manners 
for loyal Germans to have a copy conspicuously displayed. Its anti- 
Jewish, anti-Bolshevik, and anti-Democratic doctrines are well 
known. Its value as a means of predicting Nazi activities was of 
course weakened by the German-Russian Pact. A distillation of re- 
cent Nazi literature was made by the writer, which, disregarding 
family doctrine, runs somewhat as follows: 

Biologically the good Nazi is to believe in the all-importance of 
race, the survival of the fittest, the need for a national eugenic 
policy, the sacred duty of maintaining race purity, the soundness of 
racial instincts, and the responsibility for breeding a strong genera- 
tion of youth. Ethically he accepts the principle of leadership, the 
placing of common interests before individual interests, the obligation 
to obedience, the sacred bonds of comradeship, the virtues of hard 
work, perseverance, thrift, loyalty, hardihood, and military courage. 
He is taught to be idealistic, to prize the unity of his people, to 
cherish the Germanic tradition, to maintain contact with nature and 
to reverence the soil of his native land. In the sphere of aesthetics, 
he is taught to respect an art rooted in the German folk, to place 
stress upon faith and emotion, to reject cold intellectualism, to re- 
spond to pagan ritual and to give himself up to pageantry drama- 
tizing the power and the glory of his people. 

The political creed is especially important. He is made to believe in 
the justice of Germany's demand for colonies, the persecution of 
his land by foreign powers, the evil influence of the Jews, the loss of 
the war due to Jewish-Bolshevik traitors, the intrigues of Freemasons, 
the Bolshevik conspiracy for world domination, the crusade of lying 
propaganda directed against Germany, the folly of internationalism, 
the all-importance of national honor, the need for a totalitarian cul- 
ture, the supremacy of the state, the spiritual unity of all Germans 

^^ Gottfried Feder, Das Program des N.S.D.A.P., Munich, Eher, 1936, p. 19. 


and the worship of national heroes. Above all he must accept the 
dogma that National Socialism is the salvation of Germany .^^ 

Social Organi%ation of NaT^J Germany 

The economic changes brought by National Socialism are numer- 
ous and drastic. In the spring of 1933 the Nazis appropriated May 
Day as their own holiday and pointed out the distinction by smash- 
ing the labor unions and brutally dragging away their leaders to 
concentration camps. The Nazi theory of industrial relations held 
that employers and employees were comrades, carrying on the pro- 
duction process to serve the German people. It was contended, how- 
ever, that the leadership principle should apply. The employer should 
be a responsible Fiihrer directing his loyal followers in performing 
a national service. Strikes were forbidden, but the labor law pro- 
vided for a factory council, elected by employees from a list prepared 
by Party officials. For a time workers were able to express their true 
attitudes by voting down Nazi candidates. Since the advisory coun- 
cils had little power, the only protection for workers was provided 
by Labor Trustees centrally appointed for certain regions to adjust 
disagreements concerning wages, hours, and conditions of work. 
These labor trustees were given power to enforce decisions, but 
since many of them were former corporation lawyers, they were not 
likely to be too indulgent to German workers. Furthermore, courts 
of social honor were set up to handle grievances. 

Another feature of the new socio-economic organization was the 
Labor Front established under the direction of Dr. Ley. This was 
intended to include practically all German employers and employees 
in a spirit of patriotic fellowship. One branch of the Labor Front is 
known as Beauty of Work {Schonheit der Arbeit). With the aid of 
propaganda and promotional techniques an attempt was made to 
encourage economic Fiihrers and their followers jointly to clean up 
the factories, plant flowers, build swimming pools, and improve 
working conditions. Obviously many of the innovations were ex- 
tensions of the old paternahstic morale-boosting in turn prompted 
by the rise of scientific management. Another significant branch of 

^^ Clifford Kirkpatrick, T^azi Germany, Its Women and Family Life, Bobbs 
Merrill, 1938, pp. 34-5. 


the Labor Front is the Strength Through Joy (Kraft durch Freude) 
organization. Recreation is organized and entertainment provided, 
trips, excursions, and hikes arranged. It is community recreation on 
a far grander scale than anything contemplated in America. Mil- 
lions of Germans are provided with recreation strongly flavored 
with propaganda. In 1937 much was made of excursion ships which 
were built with dues collected from members. More recently it was 
planned to build a factory for the mass production of low-priced 
motor cars. The Labor Front works in close co-operation with the 
Winter Help, which collects several hundred million marks each 
year and distributes them very ostentatiously to the needy. Nazi 
organizations take turns in sending out members to shake painted 
collection cans under the noses of passers-by. 

As might be expected in a totaHtarian state, business and profes- 
sional life is thoroughly organized on the geographical and func- 
tional basis. There are some eighteen economic chambers in fourteen 
economic districts subordinated to the Reich Economic Chamber. 
The whole complex structure comes under the control of the Min- 
ister for Economic Affairs. There are professional organizations, as, 
for example, those including lawyers and doctors. 

Agricultural activities were organized by Darre into the so-called 
Food Estate. Here was most completely realized the theory of na- 
tional organization in terms of Stdnde (functional groups). Farm- 
ers stand high in Nazi esteem by virtue of the doctrine of Blut und 
Boden. As racially pure citizens rooted in the German soil they are 
assumed to insure national survival through fecundity and the pro- 
duction of food necessary for economic independence. Nevertheless, 
their activities are vigorously regulated. The Nazi bureaucracy estab- 
lishes quotas and fixes prices. Another interesting development was 
the estabHshment of hereditary peasant estates. Some 700,000 of these 
were established. 

The financial policy of the new Nazi Government was inflation- 
ary. It expended huge sums for government projects such as roads, 
buildings, and above all, rearmament. Because gold reserves were 
lacking, ingenious barter arrangements were worked out by Dr. 
Schacht. With the reduction of unemployment by a spending policy 
and a tremendous increase in production, the income from taxation 


also increased. Retention of the old and high rates of taxation, de- 
spite increased production, reduced the amount of internal borrow- 
ing which otherwise would have been necessary to meet gigantic 
expenditures. In 1936 the second four-year plan was announced with 
the avowed purpose of furthering Germany's economic independ- 
ence as a feature of military preparedness. Long before the out- 
break of the War of 1939 tremendous efforts had been made to gear 
the economy into the military machine. Wages were kept at their 
old low levels to reduce consumption. While an attempt was made 
to control prices, real wages dropped. This was offset in part by the 
elimination of unemployment and increased hours of labor. Scien- 
tists were commandeered to find synthetic substitutes for natural 
products. Workers were commandeered to work as directed regard- 
less of family or personal interest. Even capital was recruited through 
forced loans and taxation. The German economy had been placed 
on a wartime basis long before the outbreak of war. 

The political organization of Nazi Germany is, of course, under 
the domination of the Nazi Party. An elaborate Party organization 
is maintained parallel to the governmental organization, but Party 
members also hold government positions, thus making certain that 
governmental actions express the will of the Party. Governors have 
replaced the local political authorities. Citizenship is a national 
rather than local matter. According to the leadership principle, 
authority is exercised through appointments downwards from the 
top of the hierarchy. An occasional plebiscite is taken on important 
issues which, thanks to Nazi political methods, invariably expresses 
overwhelming approval. The Reichstag is retained as a sounding 
board for Hitler's poUtical speeches, but does not interfere with 
government by decree. 

In Germany as well as Italy it is realized that the destiny of a 
country Hes with its youth. The Nazis began to organize young 
people as early as 1926; in fact, about 20 young boys were killed in 
the street fighting. The greatest growth in numbers occurred just 
before the seizure of power when Baldur von Schirach became youth 
leader. By 1934, there were about 6,000,000 young people enrolled 
of whom about a third were girls. According to a law of December i, 
1936, all German young people were theoretically brought into the 


youth organizations. Boys from 10 to 14 belong to the Youngfolk 
while those 15 to 18 belong to the Hitler Youth {Hitlerjugend) 
proper. The younger girls belong to the Jungmadel and the older 
girls to the Bund Deutscher Mddel (League of German Girls). 
Numerous schools for leaders give further training to especially 
promising youngsters. For both boys and girls there is a vast amount 
of hiking, singing, sports, first aid, political education, and participa- 
tion in ceremonies. In the case of boys the training more nearly 
approaches formal military training. 

Young people are also brought together in comradeship, disci- 
phned, and indoctrinated by means of Labor Camps. The law of 
July 26, 1935, established compulsory labor service for both sexes. 
The young men carry on work very similar to that of the C. C. C. 
camps in the United States. For six months the German lads work, 
drill with shovels, and contemplate the camp motto {Treu leben, 
trotzend \dmpfeit, lachend sterben). 

The Nazi influence on the family institution has not been so 
marked as might be expected from the patriarchal Nazi ideology, 
which, of course, stressed improvement of reproduction in quantity 
and quahty. An attempt was made to boost the birth rate by sub- 
sidies, modified taxation, marriage loans, and propaganda, together 
with restriction of abortion and birth control. The crude birth rate 
rose from 14.7 in 1933 to 19.1 in 1936. A naive attempt was made to 
improve the quality of offspring by the Nuremberg laws of 1935 
which prohibited marriage and sex relations between Jews and 
Aryans. More realistic was the sterilization law of July 14, 1933, 
which provided for the sterilization of nine types of defectives. 
Numerous eugenic clinics have been established which, among other 
activities, issue health certificates prior to marriage.^^ 

An attempt to restore women to womanly work was not particu- 
larly successful. While some good jobs were taken over by men, 
the number of women gainfully employed rose steadily during the 
Hitler administration. In spite of all the glorification of motherhood, 
mothers still remain at the machines. This has become increasingly 

^^ The extent of the program is shown by the fact that down to 1937 some 
700,000 couples had received marriage loans. At least 100,000 persons have 
been sterilized. The total may be 200,000 or perhaps more. 


true because of military necessity. While much concern was ex- 
pressed for strengthening family life, the divorce rate increased, 
children were drawn away from their parents into youth organiza- 
tions, and family functions were weakened through increased activ- 
ity on part of the State.^* 

Propaganda is a conspicuous feature of Nazi life. All agencies of 
communication are under the control of Propaganda Minister Gob- 
bels. All of the activities pertaining to literature, the press, radio, the 
theatre, music, the arts, and the film industry are organized in the 
Reich Chamber of Culture. From the beginning the Nazi leaders, 
notably Hitler and Gobbels, demonstrated a flair for propaganda 
activity. At mass meeting and Party congress old and new devices 
were used with great effect. Uniforms, parades, songs, banners, party 
symbols, salutes, ceremonial rituals, and volcanic oratory served to 
arouse, inspire, and indoctrinate the German people. Myths were 
employed to good effect. For example: the stab in the back which 
lost the war; the heroism of Horst Wessel; the Jewish-Bolshevik con- 
spiracy; and the like. The essential techniques are repetition, the 
lie so big that it seems true, the defense by attack, simplicity, sharp 
black-and-white contrasts, and above all, a constant appeal to love 
and hate. Recurrent themes are love, comradeship, and unity with 
your own kind, and hate for alien inferior and menacing enemies, 
real or imaginary. In order to simplify the business of hating, 
enemies may be strangely mixed. Jews, Bolsheviks, Catholics, Free- 
masons, and traitors may be jumbled together. 

No atrocity or scandal is too fantastic for exploitation. Headlines 
from Berlin papers during 1936 and 1937 include the following: 

"They were Freemasons"; "Lodge brothers break their pledge of 
secrecy"; "Ernst Toller sends Austrian workers a bill" (Com- 
munist portrayed as avaricious); "Kaplan Rossaint as Agent of Com- 
munists Ready for any Favor"; "Unchastity with Churchly Blessing" 
(accusations of sex perversion) ; "Prison for a Cathedral Official, Un- 
believable Bestiality on the Part of a Priest Discovered"; "Unbeliev- 
able Rascality of a Cloister Leader"; "Unbelievable Insult to God"; 
"Pastor carries on Seduction with a Sign of the Cross"; "Store of 
Liquor in Bedroom of the Clergy." "The German Ambassador pro- 
tests energetically against the foolish and crude insult to Chancellor 

^* Kirkpatrick, op. cit. 


Hitler by Cardinal Mundelein of Chicago." "Church Officials Protect 

Yet on the other hand, headlines concerning the Spanish War in- 
cluded "Crucified Priest"; "Sadistic Attack on Nuns" and the like. 
Repetition can conceal any inconsistency in the Nazi propaganda 

Propaganda for full effectiveness needs its ally, repression. Accord- 
ing to Nazi laws any criticism written or verbal, of Party or Govern- 
ment may be severely punished. Special courts ironically called 
People's Courts have been established for dealing with political 
criminals. Spying and tale-bearing became virtues. Not only the 
Gestapo, but friends, neighbors, even members of one's own family, 
may make dangerous accusations. The brutalities occurring in con- 
centration camps are well established. Lest doubt should exist in the 
minds of foreigners, outrages were perpetrated in newly conquered 
Austria which clearly estabhshed the nature of Nazi repression. 
The persecution of Jews is well known throughout the world. It is 
less generally known that economic sanctions are brought to bear 
on all Germans, whether Jewish or Aryan, to hold them in line. Job, 
promotion, professional opportunities, customers, access to credit 
and materials, all depend upon simulated loyalty. Repression is all 
the more eflective because the limits of personal freedom are not 
clearly defined. It seems desirable to be on the safe side. This idea 
is cumulative and contagious. 

The Inner Balance of Power 

In Germany Adolf Hitler, like MussoHni, must maintain an 
equilibrium of forces between contending interest groups. There 
are innumerable rivalries among Hitler's lieutenants which must 
somehow be adjusted. The Army, the Party, the governmental 
bureaucracy, the capitalists, the workers, and the church all repre- 
sent conflicting and overlapping interests. Certain clashes are espe- 
cially significant. On June 30, 1934, the Army won out over a 
section of the Party represented by the S.A. In the early part of 
1938 Hitler adjusted a clash between Army officers and Blomberg, 
a Party man, by strengthening his personal hold over the Army. 
Goring, as representative of the Party, won a victory over Schacht 


the expert bureaucrat. The capitaUsts Hke other economic classes 
have failed to receive w^hat they hoped to attain, with the coming o£ 
National Socialism, though the big industrialists have probably been 
favored in many ways as compared to their smaller competitors.^' 
On the other hand government regulation, forced loans, limited 
profits, and capital levies have reduced private property and private 
enterprise to mere names. Certainly the distinction between German 
and Russian totalitarianism is being steadily reduced. 

The church has offered the most vigorous opposition which the 
Nazi movement has yet faced. Shortly after coming to power, the 
Nazis worked out an agreement with the Catholic Church, but this 
broke down because of the Nazi demand for supreme loyalty to the 
state and for control of German youth, Nazi paganism, especially 
as found in the S.S. (the black-uniformed Elite Corps) and portions 
of the Hitler Youth, is especially hostile to Catholicism, An attempt 
was made to bring the Protestant Church into line as a unified State 
Church under the control of Bishop Miiller, the Nazi army chap- 
lain, who converted Blomberg to National Socialism, This attempt 
failed and hundreds of ministers are still waging the fight for free- 
dom of conscience in spite of vigorous repression. That the resistance 
is religious rather than political is dramatically illustrated by the 
offer of Pastor Niemoller, while confined in a concentration camp. 
As a good German he proposed that he again undertake activity as 
a submarine commander. While a submarine may be more comfort- 
able than a concentration camp, the offer was probably genuinely 
patriotic. As to the effect of the war upon the inner balance of 
power, no one can say. The Army alone has power to take action 
against Himmler, head of the S.S, and the secret police. Time is on 
Hitler's side, for every year indoctrinated lads constitute a larger 
proportion of the German Army, 

Implications for the World of German Fascism 

The impact of Hitlerism upon the world at large has been tre- 
mendous. From the beginning it operated at a more rapid tempo 
and on a grander scale than Italian Fascism. Behind a cloud of 

^^ Editor's Note: Note, however, in the early part of the War of 1939 the self- 
exile of Fritz Thyssen, one of Germany's most powerful capitalists, because of 
his supposed disagreement with Nazi policy. — W. W, 


protest and rationalization there has been a consistent and ruthless 
policy. Withdrawal from the League of Nations and the Disarma- 
ment Conference revealed a purely nationalistic purpose. Then 
rearmament and general conscription in March, 1935, followed a 
year later by the occupation of the Rhineland. Then the Rome- 
BerUn Axis and the annexation of Austria in March, 1938. Then 
came Munich and the violation of that agreement by a complete 
annexation of Czechoslovakia. Finally Poland and the War of 

More significant than the diplomatic and miHtary triumphs is 

the method by which they were accomplished. All the world loves 
a success story. Nothing succeeds like success. Certain methods have 
been indelibly associated with success. To succeed you must lie, 
loudly, unctuously, and if possible with self-deception. Accuse your 
intended victims and kick them when they are down for resisting 
aggression. Claim sovereignty over alleged racial brethren, regardless 
of locality or nationality. Bore from within, create dissension, pro- 
claim yourself the guardian of the weak and oppressed. Precede 
ruthless application of force by fraudulent protestation of peaceful 
intent. Divide your enemies. At the first sign of dissension or weak- 
ness, increase your demands. Such methods are not new to the 
world nor unfamiliar to Hitler's enemies. The point is that more 
ruthless application of these methods has led to extraordinary success. 
There is inevitably a temptation to match or to contest this success 
by the same weapons. Fascism breeds Fascism. 

German and Italian Fascisms Compared 

A comparison of Italian and German Fascisms raises many in- 
triguing questions. Are the two systems identical? Are they two 
examples of a culture pattern which appears with uniform charac- 
teristics in different countries and is but little affected by special 
historical circumstances? Did Germany merely borrow from Italy 
or did two independent paths of development converge? Is there a 
distinction between Fascism and dictatorship? What are the most 
constant elements in the Fascist pattern? Are there certain causes 
which make a Fascist movement as inevitable as the explosion which 
results from the mixture of certain chemicals? What interpretations 


of Fascism connect the strange with the famiUar and faciHtate 
inference and prediction? 

There is certainly a striking resemblance between Italian and 
German Fascism. It should further be noted that both bear a close 
resemblance to Russian Communism. Perhaps there is a compensa- 
tory quality in the assertions of Fascists and Communists that 
fundamental differences exist.^^ Let us confine ourselves, however, 
to a comparison of Italian and German Fascist patterns. Points of 
resemblance include: (i) Dictatorship; (2) Closely regulated State- 
CapitaHsm (a collectivistic capitaHsm); (3) A one-party poHtical 
organization; (4) An organic theory of social organization, accord- 
ing to which the individual is merely a cell in the body poHtic; 
(5) The leadership principle operating through a hierarchy pledged 
to obedience and discipHne; (6) Intense nationalism; (7) Mili- 
tarism; (8) Suppression of civil liberties for the social good as seen 
by dictator and party; (9) Repressive machinery, including spies, 
secret police, and a party militia; (10) Reliance upon propaganda 
and censorship to create uniform Fascist attitudes; (11) A legal 
system based not on contract or individual rights but rather indi- 
cating the minimum which must be done in service of the state; 
(12) The identification of education and propaganda; (13) The 
indoctrination and discipline of young people through youth organ- 
izations; (14) The maintenance of emotional excitement ("high 
moral tension") by frequent public spectacles and ceremonies; (15) 
Acceptance of violence and imprisonment as political weapons 
(penal islands and concentration camps) ; (16) The inciting of 
hatred against real or alleged poHtical enemies; (17) A striving for 
economic and cultural autarky or self-sufficiency; (18) A mystical, 
semi-religious reverence for the leader; (19) A patriarchal theory of 
family life which lays stress upon reproduction; (20) Purely national- 
istic ethics. 

^^ Editor's Note: Since the signing of the Nazi-Soviet trade and non-aggres- 
sion pacts incidental to the commencement of the War of 1939, the two poUti- 
cal systems have made some amusing efforts at soft-pedahng their previous 
denunciations of each other. Less than a month before the signing of the pacts, 
the official Soviet papers still referred to the Nazis as the "fascist wolves of 
aggression." Not more than two months later the same Soviet press referred to 
the difference between National Socialism and Communism as "a matter of 
taste." — W. W. 


Points of difference include (i) Greater stress in Germany upon 
community of interest in the welfare of the German people as 
served by the leadership principle; (2) The Italian corporations 
seem to imply greater awareness of specific functional interest groups, 
notably the distinction between employer and employee; (3) Italian 
Fascism seems to lay stress upon "folksy" comradeship as served by 
the sending of children to the country, the temporary replacement 
of factory workers by students, and community meals (the Ei?2- 
topf); (4) Italian Fascism has worked out a more pacific adjust- 
ment with the Church; (5) Italy retains royalty as a symbol of 
national unity; (6) Germany has worked out arrangements for com- 
pulsory labor service more completely than Italy has done. 

(7) By far the sharpest distinction between ItaHan and German 
Fascism lies in the stress placed by Nazis on anti-Semitism in particu- 
lar and hereditary factors in general. The concept of Blut, or, more 
accurately, germ plasm, has entered into various Nazi policies. They 
have been able to sharpen and dramatize their enmities by treating 
Jews as though they were members of a different and inferior breed. 
They have justified the leadership principle as based on individual 
differences. Their eugenics policy has become a dramatic crusade for 
healing, purifying, and strengthening the folk-organism. Above all, 
their useful myth of common blood has added to the tie of national- 
ity another bond making for unity and solidarity. This distinction 
between Italian and German Fascism has recently become blurred 
with the development of an anti-Semitic policy in Italy and a strict 
prohibition upon race mixture in Ethiopia, 

It is impossible to determine exactly how much cultural borrowing 
took place back and forth across the Alps. Contact occurred of 
course. MussoHni invited Hitler for a visit long before the Nazis 
came to power. Hitler obviously thought of dictatorship after the 
Italian manner. Goring doubtless imported certain ideas from Italy 
to which he fled after the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. The Nazi bor- 
rowing of the Roman salute seems clearly established, and perhaps 
the use of colored shirts. The idea of obtaining political advantage 
from the Reichstag fire came perhaps from observing the effect of 
a bomb explosion in Milan during the spring of 1921. The Nazis 
may have borrowed some of their effective ritualistic martyrology 


from the Fascists. In songs, roll calls, and in memorial ceremonies 
the fiction is maintained that dead comrades are present in spirit 
among the surviving heroes of the Fascist movement. The borrow- 
ing, in turn, of racial doctrines by Mussolini from his pupil has just 
been noted. 

What of the Fascist pattern is essence and what is accident? Was 
the late Huey Long really a Fascist leader? Do the Silver Shirts 
constitute an exact counterpart of Nazi storm troopers? Is Japan a 
Fascist country ? Do events in Brazil constitute a repulse of a Fascist 
movement by a government itself fascistic? Is vigilantism in the 
United States fascistic or merely an American technique for break- 
ing strikes? Has France gone fascistic with the assumption of 
dictatorial powers on the part of Daladier? Are modern Fascisms 
sociologically identical with the tyrannies of Greece and the dicta- 
torships of Rome? It would seem that the most sensible way out of 
these problems and difficulties is to assume that the systems of Italy, 
and perhaps Germany, constitute Fascism. Identical systems are also 
Fascist. When characteristics drop out or differ as to degree or 
amount then these systems are fascistic but are not simon-pure 

Ashton, throughout his penetrating book, defines Fascism as 
collectivistic capitalism.^'^ Collectivism might be identified with an 
organic theory of society incorporated in a genuine mass movement 
and reinforced by propaganda and repression. Characteristics such 
as these are lacking in monarchical or military dictatorships and in 
individualistic vigilantism or terrorism. It is not very illuminating, 
however, to explain the rise of Fascism by assuming that it develops 
inevitably when a people are prone to collectivism, but cannot 
develop when a people, as in the United States, are individualistic. 

Interpretations of Fascism 

There are numerous interpretations of Fascism. Like blind men, 
describing an elephant, writers frequendy merely emphasize the 
component of the Fascist pattern with which they happen to be in 
the closest intellectual and emotional contact. For example, it may 
be a matter of Jewish persecution or a violation of civil liberties. 

^^ Ashton, op. cit. 


Again, interpretation may be in terms of comparison or analogy. A 
novel and disturbing phenomenon is related to something more 
familiar. This procedure is quite legitimate if some insight, inference, 
or prediction is forthcoming. Another approach is to interpret 
Fascism in terms of origins and genesis. There may be a particu- 
laristic historical description or perhaps a general formula assuming 
developmental stages. The clash of social forces and a recurrent 
historical drama are assumed to be uniformly staged regardless of 
local conditions and the historical antecedents. A few possible or 
suggested interpretations of Fascism may be mentioned. 

Common in the United States is the gangster-terror interpretation 
of Fascism. It is held that a relatively small group of political 
gangsters and racketeers grasp power largely by force. They are 
assumed to seize economic advantages for themselves and friends and 
to carry the spoils system beyond the achievements of Huey Long 
or Tammany Hall. Foreign pohcy is assumed to be merely an 
extension of the terrorism, exploitation, and racketeering practiced 
within the Fascist country itself. This simple interpretation obviously 
ignores the tremendous popular support enjoyed by Fascist govern- 
ments and the romantic idealism which attracted such support. 

Another simple interpretation is in terms of leadership. Fascism 
becomes the biography of a great man or a great villain. Superhuman 
qualities, benevolent or malign, are attributed to the Fascist leaders. 
Obviously Hiders and MussoHnis have died unsung in jail and per- 
sons of lesser stature, clad with the wishes and dreams of their 
followers, have been made great by their times. 

Intermediate between personal and historical interpretations lie 
psychological ones. These may be gossipy, anecdotal accounts of 
Fascist leaders. We gather that Germany is air-minded because of 
Goring's frustrated career as a war ace. He may persecute Socialists 
because his insignia was once torn off by a Socialist mob. Hitler 
may or may not be making good to justify himself with reference 
to his mother image. Germany may or may not be a mother-symbol 
for a parent-fixated neurotic. It is hard to prove that Mussolini is 
trying to outdo his father in revolutionary activity .^^ It is unques- 
tionably interesting to note that numerous Nazi leaders were of 

^® Gunther, op. cit., pp. 1-83, 107-228. 


foreign origin. Hitler has repeatedly expressed his personal interest 
in the annexation of Austria. It does make sense to regard leaders 
as father-substitutes made desirable to Europeans by the breakdown 
of family life during the war and post-war years. Analyses of crowd 
psychology made before MussoHni or Hitler came to power are still 
helpful in seeking to understand the Fascist movement. Everett 
Dean Martin, for example, published a penetrating book in 1920 
called The Behavior of Crowds. He showed how repressed and 
unconscious motives might find expression through the release of 
inhibition in the crowd situation. He showed the tendency to abso- 
lute behef, to rationalization, to paranoid egotism, to hatred, and the 
need of a crowd for an enemy.^^ History has provided appropriate 
illustrations for his book. 

One of the most interesting attempts at a psychological interpre- 
tation of Fascism is that of Frederick Schuman.^" His psychological 
concepts are those provided by psychoanalysis. We learn of a neurosis 
afflicting the German lower middle class, of guilt and inferiority 
feelings, of sadism aroused by the war and inadequately repressed 
by peace, of a castration complex experienced by Germany through 
loss of territory at Versailles, There is much concerning a weakened 
superego, need of punishment of selves and others, of paranoid 
delusions of persecution, and of pathological regressions to infan- 
tilism on part of the Kleinburgertum. Abel has eflFectively criticized 
Schuman's reasoning by analogy, his verbal substitutions, his ignor- 
ing of common-sense interpretations, and his assumption that mil- 
lions of Germans were neurotic.^^ 

Historical and cultural interpretations of Fascism can be made 
in abundance. Some of these have been touched upon in preceding 
pages. Certainly it is difficult to find any general formula which 
explains aptly the rise of Fascism in certain countries but not in 
others. Germany experienced both defeat and economic difficulties 
in 1923 but Fascism did not come at that time. Agricultural and 
feudal Russia knew both defeat and economic chaos but went com- 
munistic rather than fascistic. It is very plausible to explain Nazi 

-^ E. D. Martin, The Behavior of Crowds, Harper, 1920. 
®° F. L. Schuman, The Nazi Dictatorship, Knopf, 1936. 
^^ Theodore Fred Abel, Why Hitler Came to Power, Prentice-Hall, 1938, 
pp. 186-194. 


Germany as owing to the revival of Prussian militarism. Perhaps 
the World War never ended. There merely followed a latent phase 
of passive and diplomatic resistance. Frantic rearmament began 
under the Nazi regime, Germany developed into an armed camp. 
Industry, social organization and education became means to mili- 
tary efficiency in a warrior state. Then came skirmishes and, finally, 
a second active phase of one long-drawn-out European War. 

One of the best examples of a historical interpretation, in the 
narrower sense of explaining why Hitler came to power, is pro- 
vided by Theodore Abel. He explains the rise of National Socialism 
by four inter-related causes, (i) One cause was discontent owing to 
war humiliation, loss of economic and social status, political inepti- 
tude of republican leaders, and counter-revolutionary aspirations. 
The discontent was continuous and was focussed on a common ob- 
ject, the republican regime. (2) A second cause was Nazi ideology 
with its happy combination of nationalistic and socialistic appeals, 
its ideal of Gemeinschaft (solidarity), its leadership principle, and 
its appeal to pre-existing anti-Semitism. (3) A third cause was the 
Nazi organizational and promotional technique involving devoted 
missionary work in small localities, a revival of military comrade- 
ship, and dramatic demonstrations. (4) A fourth cause, according 
to Abel, was charismatic (mystic) leadership on the part of Hitler 
who was both executive and prophet. In view of existing needs he 
appeared a man of destiny, and with the aid of personal fascination 
became for millions of Germans a legendary figure.^" The writer 
has little quarrel with Abel's admirable analysis illustrated and 
buttressed as it is by hundreds of case histories of Nazi followers. 
It does not, however, relate National Socialism to other Fascist 
movements, nor does it point out all of the possible inferences and 
implications. He grasps one horn of a dilemma and sacrifices the 
implications and applications of a general formulation for the 
precision and cogency of a specific analysis. 

Interpretations of Fascism in terms of class relationships have 
been advanced which attempt to state a general formula. A notable 
example is John Strachey's book, The Menace of Fascism. According 
to this Marxian analysis progressive social trends are incompatible 

^~ Ibid., pp. 180 ff. 


with capitalistic organization o£ machine production. Finance and 
monopoly capitalism especially lead to war and economic depression. 
Menaced with expropriation o£ private property in a crisis situation 
the capitalists subsidize a Fascist movement to be used as a weapon 
against a revolutionary working class. According to the simplest 
formulation, then, Fascism is the last refuge of a decadent capital- 
ism. He does include in his book a brilliant analysis of the failures 
of liberal socialism. Again and again moderate socialists have played 
into the hands of reaction rather than take a drastic step toward the 
abolition of private property which is ultimately called for by their 
own program. In Germany, at least, in spite of evasion and defensive 
alliances with conservative groups against Fascism, the Social Demo- 
crats were ultimately overwhelmed and extinguished. A more recent 
Marxian interpretation stressing class relationships is that of Robert 
Brady in The Spirit and Structure of German Fascism ^^ He argues 
that National Socialism was essentially a device of the employer 
class for imposing upon workers the enthusiastic docility established 
as a goal by the scientific-management movement. 

Unquestionably Fascist movements have been heavily subsidized 
by big business.^^ However, this fact does not explain how a Fascist 
movement worth subsidizing came into existence, or the attraction 
of such a movement for the larger public. Evidence of subsidies does 
not permit prediction of the ultimate status of the capitalist class in 
a Fascist society. Suppose that the Association of Italian Bankers 
did give the Fascists 20,000,000 lira in 1922. Suppose that Italian in- 
dustrialists furnished financial backing during the election of 1924. 
Suppose that German industrialists poured funds into Hitler's coffers. 
Does it follow that they got their money's worth in view of the 
regulation and restriction imposed upon business enterprise by 
Fascist policy? It is strange, too, to find both Fascists and Com- 
munists agreeing that Fascism prevented a Bolshevik revolution. 
In Italy, Fascism came after the Red peril had passed and in Ger- 
many the most violent Communist uprisings in Berlin and Bavaria 
were repressed by Social Democrats themselves. 

^^ Robert A. Brady, The Spirit and Structure of German Fascism, Viking, 

^* Daniel Guerin, Fasasm and Big Business, Pioneer, 1939. 


A somewhat more general Marxist formula has been proposed by 
a social psychologist. According to J. F. Brown, Fascism arises when, 
in a parliamentary state, liberal democracy ceases to increase social 
freedom; the petty bourgeoisie sujfTer under monopoly capitalism; 
an increasing number of workers are driven to Communism; at- 
tempts at reform remain unsatisfactory to both proletariat and 
middle class; and, finally, when a Fascist party gets support of indus- 
trialists who are afraid of a liberal democratic government.^^ This 
formula is somewhat more specific than that of Strachey, yet 
leaves many questions unanswered as to who leads the movement 
and how, why, and when it comes to power. It overemphasizes inter- 
nal class war and underemphasizes the influence of external conflict. 
However, it is an unquestionably admirable attempt at sociological 

One is left to ponder the sociological significance of marginal 
social classes. An insecure lower middle class, particularly one con- 
taining an educated proletariat, tends to fight desperately against 
identification with the working class, which may actually be better 
off in terms of organization and income. There may be a blind com- 
pensatory identification with the upper class. A half-starved clerk 
copies the airs and attitudes of his boss. An unsatisfactory insecure 
status may be bolstered up by derogatory and hostile attitudes toward 
the next lower class. To put the process in its larger setting, one 
should note similar reactions of poor whites toward Negroes, of 
marginal shopkeepers and employed workers toward people on 
W.P.A., of mulattos toward full-blooded Negroes, of Americanized 
Jews toward those not Americanized, and of respectable women 
toward fallen women. 

A religious interpretation of Fascism may be based upon an anal- 
ogy but it does permit some additional insight, certain infereftces, 
and perhaps predictions. If, for example, a Fascist movement resem- 
bles a religious movement one might predict that it would thrive on 
persecution. Certainly a very detailed analogy can be worked out 
between National SociaHsm and, say, the Christian religion. God is 
(the German people) ; The Messiah (Hitler) ; The Holy Ghost 

'^J. F. Brown, Psychology and the Social Order, McGraw-Hill, 1936, pp. 



(the Nazi spirit) ; theology (the Nazi world outlook) ; The Bible 
(Mein Kampf) ; salvation (the attainment of national destiny) ; 
immortality (children and deeds which strengthen the German social 
organism) ; martyrs (Horst Wessel and other fallen warriors) ; the 
devil (the Jew) ; virtue (loyal service to the Nazi regime) ; sin 
(disloyalty) ; the church (the Nazi party) ; The Inquisition (the 
secret police) ; The Cross (the Swastika) ; Sunday schools (the 
Hitler homes) ; church attendance (participation in Nazi meet- 
ings) ; Church holidays (Nazi holidays) ; The Eucharistic Con- 
gress (a Nuremberg Party Congress); saints (leaders of the Nazi 
party) ; hymns (Nazi songs) ; Confirmation (oath of loyalty) ; 
Griissgott (Heil Hitler); Sign of the Cross (the Nazi salute). This 
is an analogy, to be sure, but one that promotes understanding. 

A Sociological Interpretation 

A synthetic sociological interpretation may be suggested not to 
replace but to supplement other interpretations. This is based on a 
theory of regression to tribal group intimacy. The analysis will pro- 
ceed from the general to the specific. It may be argued that animals, 
including humans, tend to regress to simpler levels of adjustment 
when faced with a complex and frustrating situation. It is assumed 
that strong imperatives to action exist, but that choice and mastery 
are difficult. A child slams down an arithmetic book. A man gives 
up looking for a job and goes home to his parents. It is further 
assumed that historically man has lived for hundreds of thousands 
of years in simple face-to-face tribal groups. Culturally, perhaps 
biologically, he became adapted to this way of life. Certainly most 
persons, even in a complex secondary society, spend their plastic years 
of childhood in primary groups, especially the family. In the family 
group most persons have the experience of intimate dependence 
upon parents. In exchange for some degree of obedience they receive 
aid and comfort when situations become complex and frustrating. 

Adult life in Western civilization has become more complex and 
frustrating. Contacts are more superficial in a secondary society. 
Segments of personality rather than total personalities engage in 
social interaction. Associates become functionaries. Unseen social 
influences become more significant and potentially disastrous, as, 


for example, anonymous conditions making for unemployment. Per- 
sonal responsibility is increased by individualism. A temporary in- 
crease in social mobility gives increased incentive to gain or to 
maintain the highest possible social status. Modern means of com- 
munication lead to culture conflict and individuation of personality. 
The social atmosphere is filled with conflicting ideas, cults, and 
creeds. Competing ideologies replace an age of universal simple 
faith. The modern agencies of communication which have helped 
render the world complex are available, however, to lead men back 
to simplicity of faith. Means of communication and transportation 
have already promoted nationalism as an incomplete and sporadic 
attempt to work out a group identification and group unity on a 
larger geographical scale. Such is the general situation which may 
further a regression to a simpler personal and social adjustment. 

Given these general conditions, certain specific circumstances may 
predispose to the rise of Fascism: (i) A frustration of the awakened 
nationalist sentiment; (2) loss of achieved or expected social status; 
(3) a sharpening of class tensions; (4) the breakdown of demo- 
cratic machinery for the adjustment of conflicting interests and 
maintaining of security; (5) a confusing multiplicity of ineffective 
programs and ideologies and a growing conviction that force must 
decide since words fail; (6) an attempt on the part of an interest 
group to use another group as a weapon or defense against some 
enemy group; (7) finally, a willingness on the part of powerful 
vested interests to fight and to pay others to fight for the protection 
of these interests. To this situation must be added a leader of ability 
with a simple creed which fits the hates and loves of a large number 
of confused and bewildered people. He must shape a fighting 
in-group organization, the nucleus of a tribal society. A tribal creed 
must be then preached, offering love, intimacy, comradeship, and 
greatness to members of the in-group. They are then welded together 
by common hatred of a real or imaginary out-group. Propaganda 
tools must be taken over to shape the tribal mind. There must be 
boring from within, missionary organizations, the division of 
enemies, and the capture of allies through fear and greed. 

Finally there emerges a tribal society on a national scale which, 
thanks to modern agencies of communication, can bring men widely 


separated into the intimacy of a primary group. A chief can harangue 
an entire nation. His picture is on every wall. Government by pep- 
talk can become an actuality. Fictions concerning common blood 
may acquire force through common belief and common ego-motives. 
"I am wonderful: you are like me, hence, you are wonderful too. 
We all say we are wonderful. It must be true." 

The satisfaction apparently experienced by millions of devoted 
Fascists seems to support this theory as to the nature and rise of 
Fascism. They are serenely content to be absolved from the agony 
of making difficult political decisions. The leader is really for many 
a father, a hero, a savior, even a God. There is comforting simplicity. 
Though a person's status be humble, he has a share in collective 
greatness. Pride in loyal service can, for many, outweigh material 
rewards. A simple creed gives serenity, freedom from conflict, and 
integration of personality to the humblest tribesmen. There are 
prisoners, hostages, and heretics, of course, within a Fascist society, 
but they can be repressed and segregated; ultimately they die off to 
be replaced by a younger generation that has known only the tribal 

It is important for the outside world to realize the full significance 
of the Fascist attempt to maintain mental and cultural isolation with 
the aid of modern techniques of propaganda and censorship. Amaz- 
ing success has been attained in maintaining entire populations in a 
state of chronic war hysteria. That which is black to the outside 
world is really white to the Fascist mind. By very definition things 
Fascist are right and good. Foreign broadcasts will be dismissed as 
Jewish propaganda. British leaflets will be regarded as a clumsy 
and dishonest attempt to repeat Wilson's success in separating the 
German people from their leaders. Many Germans need only to be 
reminded of the blockade and of Versailles to reject even truth drop- 
ping from the skies. 

Above all, it should be remembered that a tribal society implies a 
moral dualism: an in-group morality and an out-group morality. 
For most Germans it was not immoral for Hitler to steal Czecho- 
slovakia. Their attitude would be quite comparable to that of Crow 
Indians toward a chief who had stolen horses from a neighboring 
tribe. Even internal enemies may be relegated to the out-group and 


dealt with accordingly. A young son of Gregor Strasser, the Nazi 
leader killed in the blood purge, is reported to have said of Hitler, 
"Well, he is our Fiihrer." The Fascist code simply does not recognize 
any ethical obligation to persons or groups outside the tribe. 

The Dilemmas of Democracy 

The rise of ruthless Fascist powers in the modern world has accen- 
tuated certain dilemmas of Democracy. 

1. Freedom versus efficiency is an old dilemma now taking on 
new significance when alleged democracies are actually at war with 
a Fascist country. In the very nature of things it is difficult for a 
democracy based upon discussion, compromise, legal safeguards, 
and majority rule to compete with the efficiency of Fascist dictator- 
ships. Thanks to the leadership principle and the concentration of 
power in the hands of an oligarchy, in such countries, prompt, bind- 
ing decisions can be made and integrated, consistent long-time pro- 
grams can be worked out. 

2. The dilemma of educational futility versus propaganda is at- 
tracting increasing attention. It is possible that factual education, 
stressing critical rationalism and the training for personal success, 
may be socially futile, especially if applied at the lower educational 
levels. If education avoids emotional appeals to youthful idealism, 
millions of students incapable of abstract intellectual curiosity may 
remain indifferent, selfishly individualistic, and resentful of eco- 
nomic return from education which falls below that which they 
naively expect. 

3. Another dilemma, dramatically experienced by England in 
particular, is that of pacifism versus national weakness. It is difficult 
for a rich democracy to retain its pacifism without also displaying a 
national weakness which is a temptation to aggression on the part 
of miHtaristic Fascist countries. 

4. A fourth dilemma operates internally. It is the dilemma of 
tolerance versus internal Fascist subversive activity. Thousands of 
Bund members meeting recently in Madison Square Garden were 
protected by the police. But suppose that there were five million 
Storm Troopers in the United States, avowedly bent upon over- 
throwing democratic institutions by force! Should the organization 


be permitted to grow beyond control or should democracies be saved 
by repressive measures contrary to democratic principles? There is 
danger, of course, in cutting ofif a person's head to cure a cold. 
Democracy can be killed by measures calculated to defend democ- 

5. A fifth problem to be faced in the United States is the more 
subtle dilemma between gradualistic compromise versus the all-or- 
none principle. It is conceivable that a gradualistic reform movement 
like the New Deal, shot through with inconsistencies owing to 
compromise between conflicting interest groups, may completely 
fail. The parts of two different watches cannot be combined to form 
a mechanism which runs. A mixture of laissez-faire capitalism, 
government regulation, and state socialism may violate an all-or- 
none principle which calls for an organic unity. Half-way measures 
may bring merely the disadvantages of two opposing, yet equally 
feasible, systems. According to the all-or-none principle, either a 
whole-hearted and well-integrated program of collective security 
should be adopted or a program of isolation which is an organic 
whole. Yet by its very nature, a democracy such as that of the 
United States tends to steer a wobbly course somewhere between 
the two programs with considerable likelihood of suffering the 
disadvantages of both and enjoying the advantages of neither. 

Suggested Readings 

Abel, Theodore Fred, Why Hitler Came Into Power, Prentice Hall, 1938. 
Ascoli, Max, and Feiler, A., Fascism for Whom? Norton, 1938. 
Ashton, E. B., The Fascist, His State and His Mind, Morrow, 1937. 
Borgese, G. A., Goliath, The March of Fascism, Viking, 1937. 
Brady, Robert Alexander, The Spirit and Structure of German Fascism, 

Viking, 1937. 
Dennis, Lawrence, The Coming American Fascism, Harper, 1936. 
Ebenstein, William, Fascist Italy, American Book, 1939. 
Finer, Herman, Mussolini's Italy, Holt, 1935. 

Florinsky, Michael T., Fascism and National Socialism, Macmillan, 1936. 
Ford, Guy Stanton, ed.. Dictatorship in the Modern World, University of 

Minnesota Press, 1939, 2d. ed. 
"Germanicus," Germany: The Last Four Years, Houghton, Mifflin, 1937. 
Grzesinski, Albert Carl, Inside Germany, Dutton, 1939. 
Guerin, Daniel, Fascism and Big Business, Pioneer, 1939. 


Heiden, Konrad, Hitler, Knopf, 1936, 

Heimann, Eduard, Communism, Fascism, or Democracy? Norton, 1938. 

Hitler, Adolf, Mein Kampj, Reynal & Hitchcock, 1939. 

Holt, John B., Under the Swastika, University of North Carolina Press, 

Hoover, Calvin B., Dictators and Democracies, Macmillan, 1937. 
Kandil, Isaac Leon, The Malting of Nazis, Columbia University, 1935. 
Kirkpatrick, Clifford, Nazi Germany: Its Women and Family Life, 

Bobbs Merrill, 1938. 
Klotz, Helmut, ed., The Berlin Diaries, Morrow, 1934. 
Lichtenberger, Henri, The Third Reich, Greystone Press, 1937. 
Loucks, W. N., Comparative Economic Systems, Harper, 1938. 
Marx, Fritz Morstein, Government in the Third Reich, McGraw-Hill, 


Mowrer, E. A., Germany Puts the Cloc\ Bac\, Morrow, 1933. 

Mussolini, Benito, The Corporate State, Florence, 1936. 

Olden, Rudolf, Hitler, Covici Friede, 1936. 

Parmelee, Maurice, Bolshevism, Fascism and the Liberal-Democratic 
State, Wiley, 1934. 

Roberts, Steven Henry, The House That Hitler Built, Harpers, 1938. 

Salvemini, Gaetano, Under the Axe of Fascism, Viking, 1936. 

Schmidt, Carl Theodore, The Corporate State in Action, Oxford Uni- 
versity Press, 1939. 

Schneider, Herbert Wallace, The Fascist Government of Italy, Van Nos- 
trand, 1936. 

Schuman, Frederick Lewis, The Nazi Dictatorship, Knopf, 1936. 

Seger, Gerhart, A Nation Terrorized, Reilly and Lee, 1935. 

Seldes, George, Satudust Caesar, Harper, 1935. 

Steiner, H. Arthur, Government in Fascist Italy, McGraw-Hill, 1938. 

Strachey, John, The Menace of Fascism, Covici Friede, 1933. 

Wertheimer, Mildred Salz, Germany Under Hitler, World Affairs 
Pamphlet No. 8, Foreign Policy Association, 1935. 







1 ' 






\ - 

1 1 1 





luamar M.iddleton 

Historians will agree that the hostilities that began with the ad- 
vance of Reichswehr patrols over the Polish frontier, early on 
the morning of September i, 1939, were in large degree caused by 
the absence of sufficient treaty revision since the first World War. 
And this is hkely to be their only point of agreement. In time, con- 
flicting schools will arise among historians, and some will argue to 
posterity — assuming that there will be a posterity to listen— that 
Germany was exclusively at fault, or that the real villains in the 
piece were the statesmen of Britain and France who, afflicted with 
an inexplicable myopia, refused to deal honestly with the facts of 
life, economic, social and geopolitical, as they were in pre-war Nazi 
Germany; and in addition, there will doubtless be a literature of 
appalling dimensions from the pens of other war-genesis scholars 
that both these views, whatever the supporting facts, are unadulter- 
ated nonsense and that underlying the surface causes of the war was 
the subtle chicanery of Josef StaHn of the Kremlin. 

But whatever point of view is argued, and is buttressed by the 
greater quantity of evidence, one cardinal fact cannot be dismissed. 



That fact is this absence of enough treaty revision, or of the right 
kind. Without it, the world saw the violation of most of the funda- 
mental post-war treaties one after the other. Today the pace of the 
world is much accelerated since 1914, and more often than not there 
has not been time (or patience) to "denounce" these treaties, which 
is the polite method by which one party to a treaty serves notice on 
the other that it will no longer abide by the terms of an agreement. 
One of the minor consequences of these violations and broken prom- 
ises has been the creation of a point of view throughout much of the 
world that statesmen in post-war times signed treaties with tongue- 
in-cheek, that the signatories to the Versailles, Washington, Locarno, 
Briand-Kellogg, Nine-Power, Munich, and other treaties were in- 
dulging invariably in a cynical performance, for entertainment pur- 
poses only, and that no one of mature intelligence may believe that 
the agreements they solemnly signed were worth even the expensive 
paper on which they were written. (Germany is subjected to most 
of the opprobrium, because one by one she spectacularly violated the 
cardinal provisions and restrictions of Versailles; even today much 
of the world still believes that most of Versailles was an enforceable 
instrument, and that in its harsh terms the Reich got her just de- 
serts.) Cynical or not, the evident fact is diplomats would or could 
not look up to the horizon-Hne of the immediate future; obvious 
though it now appears, they could not see the forest for the trees. 
Virtually all of them suffered from detaihsm, which is one way of 
saying that, if they were not ignorant men, at least they were not 
excessively endowed with intelligence. 

If it is agreed that the major cause of the War of 1939 was the 
aforesaid lack of treaty revision, it may be enlightening to examine 
several of these fundamental agreements among the nations since 
the World War, to review why they were drawn, and to reduce their 
sometimes fearful language into intelligible English, Treaty drafters 
often partake of the obscurantism of lawyers, which is the chief 
reason for the disinclination of the laity to read their works, and to 
attempt to understand them. 

To understand the disrepute into which treaties and conferences 
for treaty making have fallen, it is necessary first to take a passing 
glance at the Covenant of the Versailles Treaty, that preHminary 


section in which the League of Nations had its origin. This Cove- 
nant contains a specific and "solemn" pledge by the Allies and Asso- 
ciated Powers to confer immediately over disarmament; the war- 
weary peoples of the universe recognized the necessity of curbing 
continued manufacture of the terrible weapons with which the last 
war had destroyed some twelve million human beings at an esti- 
mated cost of $186,000,000,000 (or approximately $15,500 per corpse). 

That agreement was signed at Versailles, with great diplomatic 
punctilio, on June 28, 1919, by all the conferees, including the Ger- 
mans who, however, were permitted to do very little except sign on 
the dotted line when so instructed. A little more than twenty years 
after that "solemn" signing in the fabled palace of Louis XIV 
(which cost the French people some $200,000,000), hostilities among 
Germany, much of the British Empire, and France broke out anew, 
and the size and calibre of their respective armaments at that time 
(September 3, 1939) made their first World War weapons appear, 
in comparison, as so many toys. 

The inability or refusal of the Allies and Associated Powers to 
achieve any degree of disarmament in a period of more than twenty 
years after their pledge at Versailles is a very powerful argument in 
the Nazis' extenuation of their behavior, of their successive violations 
of that fundamental treaty. (Incidentally, Versailles has other con- 
notations than defeat for the German people: here the capitulation 
of Paris in the Franco-Prussian War was conceded, and here also 
William I of Prussia was proclaimed Emperor in 1871.) The Ger- 
many of the Weimar Republic could, and the Germany of Adolf 
Hitler did, ask Britain and France with some measure of justified 
sarcasm, "What of your own broken promises at Versailles? In 
Article 8 of that Covenant, you pledged yourself severally to 'the 
reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with 
national safety.' Moreover, one of the conditions upon which Presi- 
dent Wilson insisted, and on the basis of which we Germans under- 
took peace negotiations, was a promise of 'adequate guarantees that 
national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent 
with domestic safety.' Now, isn't it the plain truth that none of you 
has effected any degree of military disarmament, that precisely the 
opposite prevailed in the years 1919-39.?" 


Moreover, Germans in those twenty years have been in a position 
to say, without any fear of contradiction, that the only power to 
disarm was the Reich, even though such disarmament was effected 
by compulsion — her military force was cut down to 100,000 men and 
to a limited quantity of armaments by the Versailles Treaty, and 
Britain and France saw to it (until the advent of Hitler) that this 
figure was not exceeded. 

Certainly among the major reasons for German violation of treat- 
ies, for the indifferent regard in which she has held all such formal 
agreements, is the cynicism of German leaders toward the word of 
European statesmen, chiefly those of Britain and France. The latter 
cannot argue away the fact that they have done little in the way of 
disarmament but, on the contrary, have progressively and substan- 
tially added to their land, sea, and air forces. British and French 
leaders, intellectual and political, may write impressive tomes to 
demonstrate that in the modern world disarmament is not feasible, 
that the vision of a society without war is only an absurd dream 
advanced by the old Hebrew prophets who, in the small and simple 
world of their day, could call upon men to beat their swords into 
ploughshares and their spears into pruninghooks. Or they may de- 
vise countless other briefs: that at bottom the human animal craves 
war, that armament expenditures foster economic growth, that dis- 
armament in the modern world can be no more than a whimsical 
ideal. But in the German view, no argument can be ingenious 
enough to wash away the original sin that the Allies and Associated 
Powers made no serious attempt, at any disarmament conference, 
toward Wilson's "reduction of national armaments" in conformity 
with their pledges in their own "Diktat" of Versailles. 

The student of modern history should not minimize the force of 
this present contempt for treaties engendered in the German mind by 
this Allied refusal to disarm and their arming to the hilt, or to the 
extent that their taxpayers could pay. But that sin of omission is not 
all that explains the cynicism of German leaders toward treaty 

Obviously, the terms of the Versailles Treaty, a full discussion of 
which is not within the province of this article, were not calculated 
to arouse tender sentiments in German hearts toward the Allies. 


Mindful of the post-Armistice food blockade of six months, by vir- 
tue of which thousands of German men, women, and children 
starved to death, the head of the first German delegation to Ver- 
sailles, Count von Breckdorff-Rantzau, threw the treaty on the 
floor when instructed to sign in 1919, and shouted, "We know the 
power of the hatred we encounter here." (Eventually it was signed 
by another.) But there was something more iniquitous, in the Ger- 
man view, in a set of treaties that preceded Versailles and that were 
to exercise a considerable influence upon the Versailles Pact. Not 
alone was German public opinion disgusted, but the revelation of 
these special agreements insulted the minds of men and women in 
other lands. 

The Secret Treaties 

These were the so-called "secret treaties" of 1915-17 among Britain, 
France, Russia, Italy, Rumania, and Japan. Now the treaties them- 
selves, negotiated during the World War, were not so appalling as 
the fact that their existence was kept a secret throughout the Ver- 
sailles negotiations. Prime Minister David Lloyd George and Pre- 
mier Georges Clemenceau were fully aware of them, and indeed 
their moves at Versailles were largely dictated by their terms. But 
the man who symbolized for the entire war-weary world the "new 
order," a world in which peace was to be preserved by men of good 
will acting within a League of Nations, was kept in complete igno- 
rance of these secret treaties. Woodrow Wilson, returning to the 
United States with the almost certain knowledge that the Senate 
would not ratify Versailles, was unaware why he had been defeated 
at almost every turn by the Allied treaty-drafters at the Versailles 

Here it should be recalled that first among Wilson's Fourteen 
Points was the provision for "open covenants openly arrived at, after 
which there shall be no private understandings of any kind, but 
diplomacy shall proceed frankly and in the public view." For this he 
was universally hailed. 

^ Mr. Wilson put on record his assertion that he did not know of the existence 
of the secret treaties while he was at Versailles. That has been somewhat easier 
for historians to believe than that their existence was unknown to the late 
Col. Edward M. House, the President's closest adviser. 


The German people laid great reliance on the Fourteen Points. 
And today the Nazi command refers to them with sometimes effec- 
tive irony. In relation to the foregoing stipulation in these Points, 
the student might now consider the "secret treaties," as revealed to 
the world by the Bolshevik War Commissar, Leon Trotsky. It may 
safely be said that today most people have forgotten the existence of 
these treaties, and a brief look at the provisions of these interesting 
documents is instructive, since they have contributed to the post-war 
cynicism toward treaties in general. 

There are six of these secret understandings, although it has been 
assumed that there were several other wartime treaties among the 
Allies which have still to be disclosed. The six may be summarized 
as follows '? 

1. At the close of the war, Britain pledged herself to do nothing to 
prevent the annexation by Russia of the Dardanelles Straits and of 
Constantinople by Russia. In return for this obliging compliance, 
Russia agreed to look the other way at any acquisitive moves by the 
British in the Near East. The treaty is dated March 20, 1915, or less 
than eight months after the outbreak of war. (Britain correctly as- 
sumed that the Allies would win, but did not foresee the revolution 
of 1917 which eliminated Tsarist Russia.) 

2. Britain and France consented, as an inducement to bring Italy 
into the World War, that Italy should get the Austrian Trentino 
and the southern Tyrol, together with exclusive rights to a "sphere 
of influence in Albania." That was not all in this secret Pact of Lon- 
don, signed April 26, 1915, twenty-seven days after which Italy de- 
clared war. "In the event of an extension of the French and British 
colonial possessions in Africa at the expense of Germany," this 
agreement provided, "France and Britain recognize to Italy in prin- 
ciple the right to demand for herself certain compensations in the 
form of an extension of her possessions in Eritrea, Somaliland 
[French and British], Libya, and the colonial districts bordering on 
French and British colonies." (Lloyd George and Clemenceau con- 
veniently dismissed this pledge at Versailles, which remains to this 
day one of the reasons for the sustained Italian howls for more colo- 

^ For full text, see F. Seymour Cocks, The Secret Treaties and Understand- 
ings, London, 1918. 


nies.) When the British and French envoys to the League of Na- 
tions, in 1935, condemned the ItaHan invasion of Ethiopia as a viola- 
tion of the League Covenant and of the Kellogg-Briand Pact (of 
which more later), MussoUni could afford an unpleasant laugh, re- 
membering the rude treatment of Italy by those countries at Ver- 
sailles, only a few years before. 

3. An agreement among Britain, France, and Russia (signed in 
the spring of 1916) under the terms of which Britain was to acquire 
southern Mesopotamia, Bagdad, and parts of Syria; France to get 
most of Syria; and Russia to be allotted southern Kurdistan. This 
was a variation of the ancient profession of horse trading with 
stolen horses. 

4. As an inducement to bring Rumania into the war (which suc- 
ceeded on August 27, 1916, nine days after the understanding was 
signed), the Bucharest Government was to receive Transylvania, 
Bukovina, and the Banat belonging to Austria-Hungary. 

5. A secret convention between Russia and Japan pledging them 
to take common action against the efforts of any third power to 
achieve political domination in China (signed in 1916). 

6. A treaty between France and Russia by the terms of which the 
latter would give unlimited support to the return of Alsace-Lorraine 
and the Saar Valley to France, and would also advocate the creation 
of a neutral Rhineland state along the left bank of the river; in 
return, France would leave Russia free to establish her western fron- 
tier in Germany along any line desired by the Tsar's government 
(Polish claims were to be ignored). This agreement was signed on 
March 11, 1917 — incidentally, only five days before Nicholas II was 
forced to abdicate. 

Some of these secret understandings were the basis of certain 
partitions in the redrawn map of Europe at Versailles, where diplo- 
macy was to "proceed frankly and in the public view" and where 
there were to "be no private understandings of any kind." German 
leaders, particularly those among the Nazis, have not permitted the 
Reich population to forget this double-dealing, and at every oppor- 
tunity have reminded peoples abroad of it. It is not the least awk- 
ward piece of duplicity for the French and British to argue away. 

One more word, in further explanation of the almost universal 


cynicism toward treaties, before dealing with some of these post- 
War agreements. With a good deal of reason, the belligerents and 
neutrals believed that the proposed League of Nations was an Ameri- 
can idea. Some such international society had been steadily advo- 
cated by President Wilson for months before our neutrality ended. 
Repeatedly before and during our participation in the World War, 
the President called for "such a concert of free peoples as shall bring 
peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself free." Lead- 
ership toward the realization of this ideal was distinctly, though not 
exclusively, American leadership. For that leadership, Wilson was 
greeted in Europe as a second Messiah. But when the United States 
Senate, on November 19, 1919, failed to ratify the Versailles Treaty 
(to which the League of Nations was tied in the Covenant) by a 
vote of 39 to 55, world opinion outside of this country was appalled 
at what appeared — and does still to many people — a line of conduct 
bordering upon treachery. In an oversimplified way, the peoples of 
other lands reasoned in this manner: the United States aroused 
world support for a League of Nations, preached its abiding virtues 
for mankind but, once its machinery was established, left it to its 
fate. The most powerful and the richest nation on earth, compara- 
tively untouched by the four-year conflict, the country that in all 
logic might have been expected to be the keystone of Wilson's "con- 
cert of free peoples," deserted its own creature at its most critical 
stage of infancy. 

Thus the direction of much post-Armistice thought. What did 
Wilson's fine phrases mean? Evidently they were just so much felici- 
tous prose. What was the meaning of the Covenant — an integral part 
of the treaty — if not that all the nations, and most especially all the 
great powers, should join to protect the lesser ones? The United 
States Senate's repudiation of Mr. Wilson's League provoked a vast 
amount of disillusionment throughout the world. And it certainly 
contributed in great measure to the world's bilious view thereafter 
of treaties. The fact that the United States Congress remained simi- 
larly adamant against participation in another international body 
also largely of American conception — the World Court, to which 
Elihu Root devoted a life-long labor — did nothing to change that 
view. Nor did the merciless flail of Woodrow Wilson who, speaking 


with difficulty just before his death, declared that "the triumphs of 
the war are forever marred and embittered for us by the shameful 
fact that when the victory was won we turned our backs upon our 
associates and refused to bear any responsible part in the adminis- 
tration of peace, or the firm and permanent establishment of the 
results of the war — won at so terrible a cost of life and treasure — 
and withdrew into a sudden and selfish isolation which is deeply 
ignoble because manifestly cowardly and dishonorable."^ 

The Washington Conference 

The first major meeting of the powers after Versailles was the 
Washington Peace Conference of 1921-22. Here the United States, 
after repudiating the peace treaty authored in part by its former 
President, and declining a share at Versailles in the preservation of 
world peace, wanted to come to some agreement with Britain, Japan, 
France, and Italy. It should be recalled that Britain and Japan had 
an aUiance between themselves dating from 191 1, and the possibihty 
was envisaged of a time when, conspiring together, Britain and 
Japan could exclude America from trade with China. There was also 
a less selfish interest in the call for the Washington Conference by 
President Harding. A large body of public opinion felt guilty over 
the scuttHng of the League and desired to make some contribution 
toward world peace. The setting of a limit to naval construction by 
the major powers — Britain, France, Italy, Japan, and the United 
States — seemed a practical answer. 

The results of the Washington Conference were seven treaties, of 
which three were of primary importance, the Four-Power Treaty, 
the Naval Treaty, and the Nine-Power Treaty. The United States 
delegates proceeded cautiously with the first and, before it was ap- 
proved by Congress, a resolution was adopted that gave us a con- 
venient means of escape if at any time it appeared the treaty might 
embroil us in hostilities with any of the other three signatories, the 
British Empire, France, or Japan. The fundamental provisions of 
this Four-Power Treaty were as follows: 

^ See Denna Frank Fleming, The United States and World Organization, 
ig20-igjj, Columbia University Press, 1938, p. 277 et seq. 


1. The parties agree to respect their several rights in relation to 
their insular possessions and dominions in the Pacific Ocean; 

2. If there should develop a controversy out of any Pacific ques- 
tion involving the parties' rights, all the contracting powers shall be 
invited to a conference for adjustment of the dispute. 

3. If the rights of the parties are threatened by aggressive action 
of any other power, the parties shall communicate with one another 
to determine the most efficient measures to meet the realities of the 
particular situation. 

The foregoing reduces the Four-Power Treaty to intelligible lan- 
guage. The Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate was quick 
to see a trap and it insisted on the "escape" reservation that "the 
United States understands that, under the terms of this treatment, 
there is no commitment to armed force, no alliance, no obligation to 
join in any defense." So far as this country was concerned, it re- 
duced the Four-Power Treaty to so much gibberish, save for the one 
accomplishment of cancelling out of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty pre- 
viously cited. The Senate adopted the Treaty, March 4, 1922, by a 
vote of 67 to 22. 

The Washington Naval Treaty, or the Five-Power Naval Treaty, 
made somewhat more sense, and its drafters got their teeth into 
definite provisions regarding armament limitation. This treaty, 
signed by the United States, Britain, Japan, France, and Italy, re- 
stricted British and American total battleship tonnage to 525,000 
tons, Japan to 315,000 tons, and France and Italy to 175,000 tons each. 
No dreadnought was to exceed 35,000 tons or be armed with guns of 
more than 16-inch calibre. The treaty was to remain in force until 
December 31, 1936. Eventually, Japan, Italy, and Germany an- 
nounced they would no longer be bound by the terms of the London 
Naval Treaty of 1936, which supplanted the Washington agreement; 
and similar action followed by Britain, France, and the United 

The Nine-Power Treaty was a restatement of the Open Door pol- 
icy in China, an agreement which Japan later was quick to dismiss 
as the proverbial scrap of paper although she signed it in company 
with the United States, Britain, France, Italy, China, the Nether- 
lands, Portugal, and Belgium. Its cardinal provisions were these : 


1. Excepting of course China, the signatories agreed to respect the 
sovereignty, independence, and the territorial and administrative 
integrity of China; 

2. The Powers agree to provide the fullest and "most unembar- 
rassed opportunity" to China to develop and maintain for herself an 
eflEective and stable government; 

3. The Powers agree to use their influence for the purpose of effec- 
tually establishing and maintaining the principle of equal opportu- 
nity for the commerce and industry of all nations throughout the 
territory of China; 

4. The Powers will refrain from taking advantage of conditions 
in China to seek special rights or privileges which would abridge the 
rights of subjects or citizens of friendly states, and from counte- 
nancing action inimical to the security of such states. 

5. "The contracting parties agree that, whenever a situation arises 
which in the opinion of any one of them involves the application of 
the stipulations of the present treaty, and renders desirable discussion 
of such application, there shall be full and frank communication be- 
tween the contracting powers concerned." 

There was one absurd aspect to this product of the Washington 
Conference. In the foregoing treaty, the Nine-Power Agreement or, 
to use its more flowery label, the Treaty of Chinese Integrity, Japan 
in effect was called on the carpet by the other Pacific Powers, Soviet* 
Russia excepted, and warned not to become over-ambitious in China 
or attempt a new order of "Asia for the Asiatics." But after giving 
this pledge of good behavior, Japan in the Washington Naval Treaty 
was permitted a naval ratio that gave her command of the Orient. 

Here arises the inevitable question, are treaties of any value that 
depend on moral force alone? There exists a vast literature on the 
subject of the efficacy of moral force, or the lack of it, in treaties. The 
acid test of any treaty is, manifestly, is it enforceable ? Will it work ? 
That is obvious to any child. Yet individuals whom the world ac- 
cepts as statesmen have continued to draft treaties that on their face 
are preposterously impractical and impossible of enforcement. The 
burden of post-War experience has been that treaties are observed 
only where it is to the self-interest of the parties to observe them, 
and this category most often excludes all but commercial treaties, 


and not always these. The League made a serious attempt to provide 
enforcement machinery through provisions for sanctions, or penalty 
embargoes, and even for military measures in the celebrated and con- 
troversial Article i6 of the Covenant ("it shall be the duty of the 
Council in the event of aggression to recommend to the several gov- 
ernments concerned what eilective military, naval, or air force the 
Members of the League shall severally contribute to the armed 
forces to be used to protect the covenants of the League [and] . . . 
the Members of the League agree . . . that they will take the neces- 
sary steps to afford passage through their territory to the forces of 
any of the Members of the League which are co-operating to protect 
the covenants of the League"). As it became progressively more evi- 
dent that the gears of this enforcement machinery would not mesh, 
the League became progressively more of an anachronism, not a sys- 
tem for the present-day world but conceivably practical in a society 
of the future where men possess none of their present vices. 

A parenthetical example may be suitable here to illustrate the fore- 
going statement that almost the only category of treaties that are 
observed are commercial pacts, or generally those where self-interest 
dictates observance. For example, the United States and Japan abide 
scrupulously to an agreement over bird-manure rights on scattered 
Pacific islands — France and Italy are thoroughly en rapport with 
respect to the importation of silk-worm eggs, while Poland and 
Sweden abide faithfully by mutual promises to warn each other of 
"nationals of unsound mind." These agreements may sound ludi- 
crous, but they are good examples of strictly enforceable treaties 
between nations. Again, in 1936, when at last the League of Nations 
succeeded in imposing economic sanctions on Italy for her invasion 
of the territory of another League member — Ethiopia — that body 
only succeeded in depriving the Italian people of various cheeses 
and brands of chocolate drops; the perspiring Sanctions Committee 
felt itself unable to do anything restrictive about oil, coal, iron, cot- 
ton, and other materials vital in war. The reason was that Britain 
and France took at face value Mussolini's bluff that he would make 
war if sanctions were literally applied. Inevitably, under those cir- 
cumstances the key articles in the Covenant of the League were 
shown to be meaningless. And inevitably the Geneva body suffered 


greater discredit than ever before — and it had been dealt some severe 
blows by Germany and Japan. That men look askance at the League, 
and at post-War treaties generally, is easy to understand after a 
glance at the record. 

The Locarno Conference 

The next great conference was held at Locarno, which opened in 
that Swiss town on October 4, 1925, with delegates on hand of seven 
nations, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Belgium and 
Czechoslovakia. The story of the inception of Locarno is interesting, 
and in the light of events today it seems centuries ago. The idea was 
born in the mind of Chancellor Heinrich Briining of Germany in 
1922, in an effort to stave off the impending invasion of the Ruhr by 
the French. He conveyed the idea first to Secretary of State Charles 
E. Hughes, who passed it on to Raymond Poincare of France. The 
latter suspected a political trick, in which he may not have been 
wrong, disregarded it, and ordered the Ruhr invasion. But three 
years later Sir Austen Chamberlain, then British Foreign Secretary, 
hinted to the German Government that the time might be propitious 
in France for a reconsideration of the proposed aUiance (the Radical- 
Socialist Edouard Herriot headed the French Cabinet). The ob- 
stacles to be surmounted were many before the seven powers could 
be brought together, and one of them was the Germans' futile insist- 
ence that there be stricken from Versailles the war-guilt admission. 

The Locarno Treaties consisted of nine agreements, and brought 
Germany into the League of Nations, although not for long. Britain, 
France, Germany, Italy, and Belgium (eventually the last begged 
off) signed agreements mutually guaranteeing their respective fron- 
tiers (the Rhineland Pact) . The most tangible result of Locarno was 
the formal undertaking by Germany to maintain the Versailles de- 
mihtarization of the Rhineland west of a line drawn thirty miles east 
of the river. The various treaties overflowed with commitments not 
to resort to arms, and were heavily encrusted with the customary 
decors of "peaceful settlement of all disputes," avoidance of the 
"scourge of war," et cetera. Yet less than ten years later Hitler had 
moved troops into the Rhineland, disavowing German pledges at 
Locarno, and had moved out of Geneva. The Nazis had come to 


power and, if the German Fiihrer has been guilty of some stag- 
gering inconsistencies and contradictions since 1933, he has never 
wavered in his demand that Germany must repudiate all the clauses 
of Versailles and all its works, of which Locarno indirectly was one. 

Read in the light of the events of 1939, the "final Protocol" of 
Locarno does not make the pleasantest reading. Therein the signa- 
tories proclaimed their resolve "to establish through common accord 
the means for preserving their respective nations from the scourge 
of war, and for providing for the peaceful settlement of disputes of 
every nature which might eventually arise between them." France 
and Belgium on one side, and Germany on the other, pledged never 
to attack one another "except in the exercise of legitimate defense." 
Unhappily, experience has demonstrated that "legitimate defense" 
is a phrase capable of the most elastic interpretation. For a good 
many years Japan has been acquiring new areas in China under the 
ostensible compulsion of "legitimate defense," Italy has defended 
herself from the "scourge of war" in Ethiopia and Albania, and 
Hitler had assured the "legitimate defense" of the Reich by the in- 
vasion and annexation of Austria, Czechoslovakia, and the western 
half of Poland. The Soviet Union, long a leader at Geneva in de- 
manding collective action against aggression, more recently has 
found it wise, in the pursuit of legitimate defense, to pre-empt the 
other half of Poland. 

The virtual repudiation by World War belligerents and neutrals 
of their enormous debts to the United States, contracted during and 
after the conflict, has not heightened respect in this country for the 
promises of European nations as clearly stated in treaties. The repu- 
diation, or "default" as the debtors insist upon calling it, remains a 
powerful brake in the United States against placing any excessive 
faith in the debtors' word — or against lending them additional 
credits, now forbidden by the Johnson Act. With the exception of 
the small credit for goods extended to Finland ($8,434,521) for post- 
War rehabilitation, one by one all the wartime and post-War debtors 
of the United States have professed to find it impossible to pay either 
upon interest or principal, although in recent months Hungary and 
Rumania have reopened negotiations with Washington for repay- 
ment. The World War ravaged vast areas, pulverizing factories and 


farms and other sources of wealth and taxes with which to repay 
obligations. Had the United States, in the dreadful winters of 1919 
and 1920, not come to the rescue with unlimited quantities of com- 
modities there is no doubt that additional tens of thousands would 
have died. There is another side to the war-debt controversy that the 
interested reader can find in a considerable literature on the subject — 
the refusal of the United States to permit repayments in kind, the 
very real impracticalities of procuring foreign exchange for deposit 
at Washington, in some instances the fatal disturbance to trade bal- 
ances that repayment would incur. But however persuasive and rele- 
vant some of this argumentation may be, the fact remains that war- 
debt repayment trickles ceased in 1933. The American taxpayer, 
upon whom the burden of repudiation falls, has an irrefutable argu- 
ment in the obvious truth that the debtor nations could have paid 
to the United States, certainly Britain, France and Italy, some part 
of the enormous sums they diverted to armaments. The funded 
debts total nearly |i3,ooo,ooo,ooo; repayments are far under $3,000,- 
000,000. Moreover, it cannot fairly be argued that the treaties or 
agreements covering these obligations have, unlike Versailles, not 
been revised. Repeatedly in the last twenty years interest rates have 
been slashed or altogether eliminated and the principal reduced. 
Nevertheless, fifteen nations remain in default or in arrears on these 


The Kellogg-Briand Pact 

Less than three years after the signing of the Locarno Treaties, 
sixteen nations affixed their names to the Pact of Paris, sometimes 
known as the Kellogg-Briand Pact, or the General Pact for the Re- 
nunciation of War. Viewed in retrospect, it appears today incredible 
that men of mature intelligence could beUeve that nations would be 
bound by such an illusive pledge as that originally conceived by 
Samuel O. Levinson, a Chicago attorney. After many months of 
correspondence between Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg and 
Foreign Minister Aristide Briand, and overtures to Britain, Ger- 
many, Italy, and Japan, the Pact was signed at Paris in the Salle 
d'Horloge at the Quai d'Orsay. Its one virtue was its simplicity. The 
fundamental provisions: 


Article I. The parties solemnly declare that they condemn recourse 
to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce 
war as an instrument of poHcy. 

Article II. The parties agree that the settlement of all disputes 
among them shall never be sought except by pacific means. 

The signatories to the Pact of Paris now total sixty-three. For 
three reasons the pact is valueless. The first is that it does not specifi- 
cally renounce "war in self-defense," which any signatory may plead 
— and has; second, it provides no enforcement machinery, not even 
the feeble mechanism of the League Covenant; and third, by indirec- 
tion it upholds the territorial status quo of the Versailles Treaty. 

A few weeks after the signing of the pact renouncing war, Bolivia 
and Paraguay were in a dispute over the Gran Chaco, which was to 
lead to a three years' war. After less than a decade, Italy (one of the 
signatories) was conducting a "war of defense" in Ethiopia, and 
Japan (also a signatory) had launched another invasion of China, 
the end of which is not yet; Japan's aggression, incidentally, was not 
only a violation of the Pact of Paris, but also of the Nine-Power Pact 
of 1922. Also in less than a decade after the signing of the Pact of 
Paris, hailed everywhere as the augury of genuine peace on earth. 
Hitler had denounced the Locarno Treaties and remilitarized the 
Rhineland, while Germany, Italy, and the U.S.S.R. (another sig- 
natory) were unofficially at war in Spain (a signatory) ; in slightly 
more than a decade after the august ceremonies on the second floor 
of the Foreign Ministry in Paris, Germany, Britain, France, and 
Poland — all signatories, again — were engaged in a second World 
War, while Japan continued her northern and westward invasion 
into China. 

It should not be concluded from this depressing history of feckless 
conferences and broken treaties that the one effective remedy for 
war — disarmament — was overlooked by statesmen in various coun- 
tries. The limitation of armaments had powerful and influential 
advocates in the United States, although their influence was some- 
what limited by our non-membership at Geneva. But during 1926-31, 
the League's Preparatory Commission on Disarmament had held 
six sessions, and American delegates had participated in a sort of 
consultative role. 


The Disarmament Conference 

The Disarmament Conference, opening on the day (Feb. 2, 1932) 
that Japan (a League member) was reducing sections of Shanghai 
to dust and in the north pursuing her conquest of Manchuria, imme- 
diately stumbled on three obstacles that were to prove insurmount- 
able. That they did so prove had a disastrous effect on world hopes 
that peace was a practicable objective; never since has sentiment and 
support for peace by disarmament reached the proportions of 1932. 
The three obstacles were the British disinclination to limit their 
naval strength further than they had in the 1922 agreement at Wash- 
ington; the French refusal to disarm in any degree unless there were 
compensating alliances to give her security from attack by Germany; 
and the German insistence on equality treatment in the Conference 
and cancellation of the Versailles terms limiting the Reich army to 
100,000. An eleventh-hour proposal by President Hoover, seeking to 
salvage something from the Conference, for a flat one-third reduc- 
tion in all land armies, was fruitless. The Conference dragged 
through the months of 1932 and into the next year, by which time 
Hitler had come to power. He withdrew from the Disarmament 
Conference and from the League. Thereafter, rearmament became 
the world's preoccupation, and the disarmament pledge of Versailles 
and the moral principle activating the Pact of Paris were regarded 
as scarcely more than pious fables. 

It was at this abortive conference that the United States, through 
Ambassador-at-Large Norman H. Davis, went farthest in volun- 
tarily compromising its freedom of action and in moving in concert 
with other interested nations. As a forlorn gesture to salvage some- 
thing from the Conference, which was held under League auspices, 
Ambassador Davis announced the United States "will refrain from 
any action, and withhold protection from its citizens if engaged 
in activities which would tend to defeat the collective effort which 
the States in consultation might have decided upon against the 
aggressor." For the United States, whose Senate had demon- 
strated consistently its antipathy to any definite commitments in 
Europe, even those of a negative character, this was saying a good 
deal. But since the American "concession" was dependent upon the 


adoption of a disarmament treaty, and since none was forthcoming, 
the Davis declaration came to nothing. 

The United States in 1932 received a chilly reception from Britain 
when, at the time Shanghai was in flames and thousands dead from 
Japanese incendiary bombs, that nation refused to join Washington 
in invoking the Nine-Power Treaty of the year before, although (in 
the words of Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson) "no human lan- 
guage in any treaty could have been more explicitly applicable to 
the situation at Shanghai and in Manchuria." Moreover, the other 
signatories to the treaty (France and Italy) also refused to join in the 
United States' declaration (Jan. 7, 1932) not to recognize the fruits 
of the Japanese invasion of China. Confronted with this picture of 
inspiring team-work, the public on this side of the Atlantic very 
naturally concluded that the Nine-Power Treaty, that famous 
"Treaty of Chinese Integrity," was no more than a scrap of paper. 
Finally, after months of prolonged consideration of the report of its 
Lytton Commission of Inquiry in the Far East, the League accepted 
it and thereby provoked the withdrawal of Japan from the Geneva 
organization (Dec. 8, 1932). Mention has been made in the fore- 
going of the resignation of Italy from the League in 1935, because 
of sanctions enforced as a reprisal for the Ethiopian adventure, sanc- 
tions that in practice meant nothing since their original form had 
been emasculated. 

The London Non-intervention Committee 

In light of the sorry history of post-War treaties, it could scarcely 
be expected that much optimism would prevail over the labors of 
the London Non-intervention Committee, established in the hope 
of localizing the conflict in Spain during 1937-39. ^^ ^^ halting and 
manifestly dishonest labors of this Committee, originally represent- 
ing twenty-seven nations of Europe, became known, the blackest 
pessimism was justified. The effect of the work of the Committee, 
created "to carry out a concerted policy of non-intervention in the 
conflict," was to keep war and other supplies away from Loyalist 
ports by means of a joint naval patrol; but it could do nothing to 
prevent Germany and Italy from lending the strongest support to 
the Nationalist forces of General Francisco Franco. Various mem- 


ber-nations resigned from the Non-intervention Committee in dis- 
gust, stating unequivocally that the London Committee's chief 
concerns were (i) to permit British merchantmen to penetrate the 
sea patrol to Loyalist ports when carrying general merchandise but 
to prevent passage of all carriers when loaded with arms and muni- 
tions; and (2) to lend support indirectly to Franco. The prestige of 
the Council of the League of Nations, at its meeting in May 1938, 
was not enhanced when it rejected the appeal of the de jitre Gov- 
ernment of Spain to approve the cessation of "the farcical and crimi- 
nal policy of non-intervention that operated to the exclusive benefit 
of the insurgents." Before the vote rejecting the appeal, Foreign 
Minister Lord Halifax argued that the Spanish conflict was a civil 
war and thus beyond the jurisdiction of the League, which could 
concern itself only with disputes between States. It is not too much 
to say that this was a flawless example of diplomatic buffoonery, 
since it could not be plainer that the war involved not Spain alone, 
but Germany, Italy, and the Soviet Union. 

The Pact of Munich 

Nothing better illustrates the scant respect today for treaties than 
the drafting and the fate of the Pact of Munich, dated September 30, 
1938. No sooner was it signed and war averted momentarily than 
the four signatories — Hitler, MussoUni, Chamberlain, and Daladier 
— hastened to their homes to redouble their preparations for hostili- 
ties, certain that the document, rather than lessening the likelihood 
of war, greatly increased the danger.* But more cynical than the 
mental reservations of the Munich signatories were some of the 
treaty stipulations themselves, and those of an annex attached to the 

The main body of the Pact of Munich, after delimiting the Su- 
detenland which was to be annexed by the Reich, provided for 
the establishment of an international commission to determine what 
other regions of Czechoslovakia, if any, might be justly called "pre- 
dominantly German territory." Plebiscites were to be held in sec- 

* See paraphrases of Prime Minister Chamberlain's post-Munich speeches in 
The World Over: 1938, New York, 1939; also Hamilton Fish Armstrong, 
When There Is No Peace, New York, 1939. 


tions where doubt existed. Signatures to the Munich Pact had still 
to be blotted when Germany made it plain she had no intention of 
holding any plebiscites, but instead would rely on the old Austrian 
census of 1910, which necessarily would reflect a far greater Ger- 
manic population than one taken in 1930, when the Czech Republic 
had been in existence for twelve years. Britain, France, and Italy, 
sick of the whole business and interested only that war had been 
averted for the present, made no protest on behalf of the Prague 

That was not all. In the Annex to the Pact of Munich, Britain and 
France state that they had "entered into the above treaty on the 
basis that they stand by the offer ... of the Anglo-French pro- 
posals relating to an international guarantee of the new boundaries 
of the Czechoslovak State against unprovoked aggression." 

Once this explicit phrase was written, pledging the powers to 
come to some agreement guaranteeing the shrunken Czech fron- 
tiers, it was forgotten. When Hitler decided, on March 17, 1939, to 
seize the two Czech provinces (Bohemia and Moravia), Prime Min- 
ister Neville Chamberlain was asked in Parliament what had come 
of this pledge. He answered that inquiries made by His Majesty's 
Government revealed that the Munich signatories had unfortunately 
made no progress in arriving at a suitable draft for this guarantee. 
The full truth was that no steps of any kind had been taken toward 
drafting that guarantee. Apologists for the British prime minister 
contend that Mr. Chamberlain's imperative concern was to give 
Britain more time to rearm; probably that is true, but it is scarcely 
an answer. 

Little in this post- War review will suggest that there are broad 
grounds for optimism, for any belief that in time men will abide by 
the pledges they write for their countries. But it is also self-evident 
that any prolonged disregard for treaties, in a world that has devoted 
enormous ingenuity to the design of instruments of wholesale death, 
must lead on some imminent day to the swift disappearance of civi- 
lized society as we know it. 

The one cheering aspect in the post-War history of treaties is that, 
in the main, trade agreements among nations have been observed. 


That is, obviously, because it frequently is expensive, economically, 
to violate their terms. Moreover, unlike such documents as the Pact 
of Paris or much of the League Covenant, commercial treaties deal 
in tangibilities, not in such abstractions as "the parties solemnly re- 
nounce war as an instrument of poUcy." Inevitably, then, the ques- 
tion always arises, cannot treaties of national policy among nations 
be so drawn that their infraction is costly and damaging in some 
direction more ponderable than the loss of moral prestige? 

Inept as the League of Nations proved to be in crises, awareness 
is unquestionably growing that if civilization is to survive it must 
guarantee peace by some adaptation and elaboration of Article XVI 
of the Covenant. "Federation" or "Union" or whatever label may be 
used, is a proposal for a United States of the World that could, 
among men of good will, make war so one-sided that in self-interest 
no nation could afford it: it would mean instant suicide, not a na- 
tion's slow death by attrition. 

"Federation" is a subject over which many millions of words will 
be written and spoken in the next few years. In Union Now, 
Clarence K. Streit has given a blueprint of democratic federation 
that at least can serve to start men thinking again of a conceivably 
practical way of forcing nations to abide by treaties and covenants 
that, in Woodrow Wilson's phrase, would be "openly arrived at." 
For centuries man has been told that his first instinct is self- 
preservation. That instinct must be revived, if he is to endure even 
for another decade. 


Goblet, Yann M., The Twilight of Treaties, G. Bell & Sons, London, 

Wild, Payson S., Jr., Sanctions and Treaty Enforcement, Harvard Uni- 
versity Press, 1934. 

Recent General Treaties, League of Nations Union, 1934. 

Cocks, F. Seymour, The Secret Treaties and Understandings, Union of 
Democratic Control, London, 1918. 

THE WAR OF 1939 


Quincy Howe 

There is excellent reason to regard the War o£ 1939 as primarily 
a continuance of the War of 1914 after a truce of twenty years. 
For the history of 1914 was not repeating itself in 1939; it was going 
on where it left off. It is true that Hitler applied the match to the 
Polish tinder-box and set off the explosion, but the historic impor- 
tance of what he did can be understood only in relation to events 
that go back long before the outbreak even of the World War in 

Whereas the World War of 1914 at once involved large-scale mili- 
tary action in the Balkans, in Central and Eastern Europe, and on 
the Western Front, the War of 1939 began with a lightning attack on 
Poland only. Hitler concentrated half his army and two-thirds of his 
air force on the Eastern Front because of the importance he attached 
to his program of eastward expansion. Actually, this was no new 
thing under the German sun. As long as a thousand years ago, the 
Teutonic Knights brought Christianity from Germany to the 
Baltic and Slavic countries to the north and east. Then, while the 
Portuguese, Spaniards, French, and British were building overseas 
empires and colonizing the New World, Germany continued to 
concentrate its attention on eastern Europe. These efforts did not 



gain Germany an empire. On the contrary. About all the Germans 
could do was settle and colonize various empty stretches of territory 
that remained under Slavic rule. But these colonizing expeditions 
which brought German-speaking communities as far east as the 
banks of the Volga River established close relationships between 
Germans and various East Europeans, especially the Russians. 

It was not until Germany became industrialized in the late nine- 
teenth century that this Drang Nach Osten (drive to the east) 
assumed what might be called an imperiaUstic character. For it was 
not until the late nineteenth century that Germany began to develop 
the industries and technical experts that have made it the foremost 
industrial nation in modern Europe. The result was that under the 
last of the Romanovs Russia came to depend more and more upon 
German engineers, German scientists, and even, to some extent, on 
German capital for the development of the country. The last Tsarina 
was herself of German origin and throughout the World War of 
1914 a powerful pro-German chque in high court circles hampered 
Russia's prosecution of the fighting. 

Of course, at the same time that some of the energies of Germany 
were going into the exploitation and development of Russia, other 
powerful groups in Germany were trying, late in the day, to emulate 
Britain and France and to acquire an overseas colonial empire. It 
was this belated effort to become a great naval power; it was this 
tendency to turn away from eastern Europe and to devote a con- 
siderable amount of its energies to overseas expansion that brought 
Germany into conflict with England in 1914. And after the World 
War of 1914 wrecked the Kaiser's expansionist program, Adolf 
Hitler, then an obscure political prisoner, wrote in Mein Kampf that 
he would never repeat the Kaiser's mistake of antagonizing England. 
He planned to restore German greatness by reverting to the old 
policy of eastward expansion. 

Hitler was not alone in his desire to make Germany the mightiest 
power in Eastern Europe. When the Russian Revolution led to a 
complete collapse on the eastern front, the German generals and 
diplomats followed up Russia's defeat by dictating the peace of 
Brest Litovsk (March 3, 191 8) whereby Germany gained control 
of large sections of former Russian territory in Poland, the Ukraine, 


and along the Baltic Coast. The dream of a vast eastern empire was 
realized overnight. 

But it was too good to be true. The Germans had taken over terri- 
tory that they could not hope to police and exploit while they were 
at the same time fighting for their existence on the Western Front 
and trying to survive the British blockade. As a result some of these 
areas reverted to Russia, others became part of the new PoHsh state, 
and still others set themselves up as independent Baltic RepubHcs. 

Nevertheless, the Germans did not give up trying. The head of 
the German delegation to the Versailles Conference was a proud 
Prussian aristocrat named Count von Brockdorfl-Rantzau who 
enraged the French and delighted his own people by refusing to 
sign the treaty that the Allied Powers laid before him. Count von 
Brockdorff-Rantzau belonged to the eastward-expansion school and 
was appointed German Ambassador to the newly created Union of 
Soviet Socialist Republics. Although an aristocrat of the aristocrats, 
he believed that Germany and Russia, the two outcasts of Versailles, 
could do business, and he became so friendly with the authorities in 
Moscow that he presently earned the title of the "Red Count." 

Another remarkable German then took up Count von Brockdorfl- 
Rantzau's work. In 1922, Germany and Russia were invited to their 
first international conference with the victorious powers. The meet- 
ing took place at Rapallo, where Germany was represented by her 
briUiant new foreign minister, Walther Rathenau, who had been 
head of the German General Electric Company and had done a 
superhuman job of conserving German resources during the war. 
He was a combination of Owen D. Young, Herbert Hoover, and 
Bernard Baruch. 

Because Rathenau believed in eastward expansion, he seized the 
opportunity that presented itself at Rapallo to sign a far-reaching 
treaty with Moscow. This led to increased trade between the two 
countries, exchanges of military secrets, and close political co-opera- 
tion. But shortly after this master stroke of diplomacy, Rathenau 
was assassinated. 

Other men took up the work where he left off and even after 
Hider came into power with his anti-Jewish, anti-Communist, anti- 
Russian slogans, Russo-German relations remained friendly. For 


Rathenau had collected a group of disciples who carried on his 
work, both under the Weimar Republic and under Hitler. The 
guiding principle of the Rathenau school was economic, not political. 
It did not interest itself in what sort of government might exist in 
either Russia or Germany. It saw great possibihties for co-operation 
and exchange of goods between Germany, the most highly indus- 
triaUzed country in Europe, and Russia with its immense untapped 
store of raw materials and its enormous need for industrial goods. 

Because the disciples of Walther Rathenau emphasized the im- 
portance of close economic ties between Germany and Russia, they 
broke sharply with the pre-war German tendency which flourished 
only from the fall of Bismarck until the end of the World War of 
1914. Bismarck had always insisted on good relations with Russia 
because he feared simultaneous war on two fronts, east and west. 
But Kaiser Wilhelm II, driven on by the big-navy men and by his 
jealousy of England, was determined to try to beat the British at 
their own game only to discover that it was a game Germany could 
not play. Rathenau therefore brought Germany back to its historic 
policy as a land power, not a sea power. His principal aim was to 
make Germany the economic if not the political leader of a great 
self-sustaining continental block of nations including not only 
Russia but all of eastern Europe from the Baltic to the Black Sea. 

Enter Adolf Hitler 

Hitler's arrival in power in March, 1933, scrapped so many of the 
policies and institutions of the Weimar Republic that the outside 
world almost entirely lost sight of Walther Rathenau's disciples. But 
insofar as the outside world paid any attention to Russo-German 
relations, it assumed that under Hitler they would of course go from 
bad to worse. It is true that Hitler repeatedly expressed a desire to 
be on good terms with England; he never made much of an issue 
about getting back colonies; he, too, wanted to make Germany a con- 
tinental power. But his anti-Russian, anti-Communist, anti-Semitic 
propaganda created a general impression that he planned to expand 
eastward by fighting the Soviet Union instead of by co-operating 
with it. 

The Russians themselves seem to have shared this fear. Within 


a year after Hitler became Chancellor, the Russians were preparing 
to join the League of Nations. Foreign Commissar Litvinov was 
preaching "collective security" instead of world revolution. Com- 
munist Parties everywhere were proclaiming their eagerness to join 
with Socialists, liberals, and even conservatives to defend "Democ- 
racy" against "Fascism." And, most important of all, Russo-German 
trade shrank from year to year until it had dwindled in 1938 to only 
one-tenth of the 1930 figure. Hitler thundered against Communism. 
At the Nuremberg Nazi Party Congress of 1936 he announced that 
Germany wanted the Russian Ukraine and the Ural Mountains. A 
year later, Stalin shot most of his best generals, including Field 
Marshal Tukhachevsky, for alleged plotting with Germany. 

While relations between Russia and Germany went from bad to 
worse under Hitler, relations between Poland and Germany took a 
turn for the better. Poland had not only acquired large sections of 
former Russian territory which Germany had controlled for a short 
time after the Brest Litovsk Treaty; it had also taken over territory 
that belonged to Germany before the war, notably the famous "Cor- 
ridor" connecting Warsaw with the sea. Even under the Weimar 
Republic, the Corridor had been a sore spot, and Polish atrocities 
against the large minority of six million Ukrainians had scandalized 
the League of Nations. No other nation in Europe treated its minori- 
ties — which included more than half the total population — as badly 
as had Poland, and even Hitler's opponents at home and abroad ad- 
mitted that his attacks on the Polish state had a certain validity. 

But no sooner did Hitler come into power than he signed a ten- 
year non-aggression pact with Marshal Pilsudski, who bluntly threat- 
ened to invade Germany if Hitler would not guarantee the Corridor 
•and promise to keep hands off the Free City of Danzig, which was 
predominantly German but which the League of Nations admin- 
istered as a free port for the Poles. Thus, the long-anticipated war 
between Germany and Poland did not come off, and Hitler devoted 
his energies to denouncing Bolshevist Russia. When the Spanish 
Civil War broke out in 1936, Hitler sent troops, airplanes, tanks, and 
battleships to General Franco's aid while the Russians shipped equip- 
ment to the Loyahsts. Russian and German aviators engaged in 
"dog-fights" over Spanish soil and the two countries lived in a state 


of undeclared war as long as the fighting in Spain lasted, which was 
more than two years. 

Then came the crisis of 1938 over Czechoslovakia and Hitler's 
triumph at Munich. Here the Russians gave every indication of 
being wiUing to fight for Czechoslovak independence and an- 
nounced that they would honor their treaty to defend the Czechs if 
the French would do the same. The French and British, however, 
declared that the Russians were bluffing because the Russian army 
had been "demoraHzed by the purge" and the Russian air force was 
"below par." To this, former President Benes of Czechoslovakia 
replied that the Russians had given him positive assurances they 
would fight against Germany if the French and British would do 
the same. 

This is not the place to assign praise or blame for what happened 
at Munich. Three things only concern us here. First, the Munich 
Conference did not promote good relations between Germany and 
Russia. Indeed, never since the World War of 1914 had these two 
nations seemed further apart. Second, by capitulating to Hitler's 
demands at Munich, the British and French surrendered the 
strongest existing bastion against further German expansion to the 
east. Third, the Poles took advantage of the partition of Czechoslo- 
vakia to take the city of Teschen. 

The Munich Conference thus shifted the balance of power in 
Europe. The four nations that participated in that Conference — 
Britain, France, Italy, and Germany — pushed Russia into a position 
of isolation. The initiative here came from the British and French 
who had little confidence in Russia's military power or even in 
Russia's good faith. Indeed, there is every reason to believe that the 
British and French not only hoped Hitler would attack Russia but 
urged him to do so in so many words. Responsible Conservative 
leaders in England had frequently urged such an attack, and when 
Hitler came into power even the Liberal leader, Lloyd George, who 
subsequently turned against Hitler, praised him as the only alterna- 
tive to communism. 

By trying to isolate Russia and by giving Hitler Czechoslovakia, 
the French and the British at once made Germany the dominant 
power in eastern Europe. For Czechoslovakia not only had the best 


army and the best defense system east of the Rhine; it also possessed 
the only large-scale munitions factory in non-German Central Europe. 
From 1939 on it became physically impossible for any small nation 
in eastern Europe to defend itself from German aggression without 
Russian aid. But in view of the fact that the British and French had 
deliberately cold-shouldered Russia at Munich, they gave Hitler 
every reason to believe that he could henceforth do as he pleased in 
eastern Europe. Not only had they shown no apparent desire to stop 
him. They had surrendered all the strategic and diplomatic positions 
they needed if they ever intended to change their minds. 

The Munich Conference gave Hitler the Sudetenland; it gave 
Slovakia virtual autonomy; it turned over other sections of the coun- 
try to Hungary and Poland. By early March (1939), however, Hitler 
launched a propaganda campaign against the Czechs. He accused 
them of oppressing the Slovaks, and set up a puppet government in 
Slovakia. On March 15, German troops occupied Prague. The prov- 
inces of Bohemia and Moravia were added to the German Reich as a 
protectorate and the settlement reached at Munich went to pieces. 

Springj ig^9j Crises 

Too late in the day, the British and French woke up to the conse- 
quences of the Munich Conference. Whether they could have fol- 
lowed a different course at Munich is beside the point. Perhaps they 
had no choice in the matter. Certainly public opinion in both coun- 
tries was sharply divided at the time and it may be that Germany's 
superior air force gave Hitler the whip hand. But having capitulated 
at Munich, the British and French suddenly reversed themselves 
and struck out on a new line. 

Hitler's seizure of Bohemia and Moravia gave the British Govern- 
ment its first jolt. After waiting a few days, Prime Minister Neville 
Chamberlain delivered a speech denouncing Hitler as a treaty- 
breaker and expressing Britain's determination to block any more 
attempts to change the map of Europe by force or threats of force. 
Immediately Hitler gave him a chance to prove his sincerity. He 
announced that the Danzig question had become acute and de- 
manded the return of Danzig to the Reich and a readjustment of the 
Polish Corridor. The Poles refused to negotiate on this basis and 


the British supported them. Hitler then said that the action of the 
Poles had nulhfied the ten-year non-aggression agreement he had 
signed with the late Marshal Pilsudski and that Britain's offer to aid 
Poland had nuUified the Anglo-German naval agreement of 1935 
whereby the Germans agreed not to build a Navy more than 35 per- 
cent as large as the British fleet. And to show that he was in earnest, 
Hitler followed up his absorption of Bohemia and Moravia by de- 
manding and getting the Lithuanian port of Memel returned to 
the Reich. 

All this happened within a month and by early April Hitler made 
a trade agreement with Rumania which gave him a virtual monop- 
oly of that country's oil and food supplies. The French then signed 
another treaty with Rumania giving them first call on petroleum 
exports. Britain began offering to extend its protection not only to 
Poland but to Greece, Rumania, and Turkey and in each case the 
offer was accepted. Meanwhile, Mussolini took advantage of the 
confusion in Central Europe to occupy Albania on Good Friday, 
April 7. Having put himself in a position to blockade the Adriatic 
and to attack Yugoslavia, he announced that there was no outstand- 
ing problem in Europe important enough to justify a war, especially 
not Danzig. 

The war in Albania and the rumors of war elsewhere moved 
President Roosevelt to intervene. Convinced that Europe was on the 
brink of a general conflict, he addressed identical letters to Hitler 
and Mussohni asking them to promise not to attack thirty-one 
specific countries that he Hsted by name. MussoHni delivered a quick 
and noncommittal reply suggesting that Mr. Roosevelt contain him- 
self. Hitler, however, waited several weeks but at once sent notes 
to all the countries whose independence Roosevelt had asked him 
to guarantee and from some of them, especially those in the Baltic 
regions, he received assurances that they did not fear German 
aggression. He then made these replies the basis of a mocking an- 
swer to Roosevelt, delivered before the Reichstag and broadcast to 
the world. 

Whether President Roosevelt's initiative prevented the outbreak of 
war at that moment we do not yet know. Certainly war looked as 
close as it had during the Czechoslovak crisis. But Roosevelt's initia- 


tive did have one unexpected result. It made more difficult the nego- 
tiations for an Anglo-Soviet pact. 

Bear That Walks Like a 

Shortly after Britain began extending its guarantees to Rumania, 
Poland, Greece, and Turkey, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain 
began to sound out Moscow on a military alliance. He had hoped 
that Russia should also underw^rite Polish independence, but the 
Russians replied by suggesting staff conversations immediately. Sir 
William Seeds, the British ambassador at Moscow, conferred with 
the Russian Foreign Office. Ivan Maisky, the Russian ambassador at 
London, began to confer with Foreign Minister Halifax and even 
attended a tea party with Mr. Chamberlain. As a result of these 
discussions, the British sent one of their experts from the Foreign 
Office, Mr. Strang, to Moscow to try to work out some kind of agree- 
ment between the two countries. The French were already bound to 
Russia by a non-aggression and a military aUiance, but they took 
part in the negotiations too in the hope of creating a close Anglo- 
Franco-Soviet pact. 

It did not seem to have occurred to any responsible British states- 
man that Russia would refuse to come into some kind of alliance, 
probably on Britain's terms, and nobody in England paid the slightest 
attention to an important speech that Josef Stalin delivered on the 
subject of foreign policy in the middle of March, 1939, immediately 
after the Nazis had occupied Prague and before the British had 
made any protest at all. In this speech, Stalin repeated his desire to 
base Soviet foreign policy on the principles of collective security 
which Litvinov had been preaching for the past several years, but 
he devoted far more space to criticizing British foreign policy. He 
announced in no uncertain terms that the Soviet Union had no inten- 
tion of pulhng other nations' "chestnuts out of the fire," especially 
after the exhibition which the British and French had given at 

Two months later, in the middle of May, Litvinov suddenly re- 
signed his post as Foreign Commissar and was replaced by Vyache- 
slav Molotov who also held the position of Soviet Prime Minister. 
Immediately thereafter, Vice Commissar Potemkin, who had been 


making a tour of the European capitals preparatory to a meeting of 
the League of Nations at Geneva, returned to Moscow and his place 
at Geneva was taken by Ivan Maisky, the Russian ambassador to 
Great Britain. The British expressed some chagrin at these two 
developments. The sudden resignation of Litvinov had evidently 
occurred under pressure and the substitution of Maisky for Potemkin 
was an unmistakable discourtesy, since the British delegation to 
Geneva had been able to consult Maisky at will in London. A few 
independent journalists began to suggest that the departure of 
Litvinov meant that Russia had abandoned collective security and 
was reverting to precisely that policy of isolation to which British 
diplomacy had attempted to consign Russia at Munich. 

Nevertheless, the negotiations at Moscow went forward and 
Chamberlain began dropping hints that a definite agreement might 
be expected at any moment. But every time the two countries ap- 
peared to have reached an agreement, first in respect to Poland, then 
to eastern Europe, then to the Baltic states, and finally to resistance 
to aggression anywhere in Europe, the Russians would keep raising 
their terms. At one point they demanded guarantees in the Far 
East. At another point they insisted that a threat of aggression 
meant an internal as well as an external threat, especially in the 
Baltic region. The British complained that the Russians were de- 
manding, in effect, the right to interfere at their own discretion in 
the internal affairs of various countries. 

It was at this point that President Roosevelt's letter to Hitler 
proved a boomerang to the British. For the Baltic nations that Rus- 
sia wanted to guarantee against aggression had just notified Hitler 
that they did not fear any attack from Germany. They also informed 
the British of their firm opposition to a Soviet guarantee. As for the 
Poles, although they lived in constant fear of German invasion, 
they also refused categorically to let Russian troops set foot on their 
soil. Thus, even if the British had been willing — as they were not at 
the outset — to meet Russia's demands, the Baltic countries and the 
Poles spurned the only guarantee that could have offered them pro- 
tection against Germany. For Britain was too far away to be able to 
offer any military assistance or even to deliver supplies. 

Nevertheless, the Anglo-Russian negotiations dragged on. At the 


end of June the Kremlin released another warning. Stalin had 
already declared himself on the subject of England's "chestnuts." He 
had also shown his impatience with collective security by dropping 
Litvinov. He now permitted one of his close personal friends to 
write a long editorial in the official government organ, expressing 
the opinion that Great Britain had no serious intention or desire of 
concluding a pact. As in the case of the two previous warnings, 
this was interpreted in England as another instance of Russia's bar- 
gaining tactics. Indeed, by now the British negotiators decided that 
they had made all the concessions they could and that Russia would 
have no choice but to sign on their terms. These terms went much 
further than the ones that the British had originally proposed. They 
did not, however, include the Far East nor did they give Russia the 
right to interfere in the internal affairs of the Baltic countries. They 
simply called for joint action against aggression in eastern Europe. 

While the British kept raising their offer to Moscow and while 
the Russians kept raising their demands, the British were stiffening 
their attitude toward Germany. On June 29, Lord HaHfax warned 
Germany that Britain was ready for war. The next day the Polish 
Government announced that any acts of aggression in Danzig, 
whether they came from within or without, would be considered a 
cause of war, and on July i the French notified the Germans that 
any unilateral change in the status of Danzig would not be tolerated. 
Finally, on July 3, the Russians rejected the best terms they were 
ever to receive from the British and the French. 

But the negotiations still continued. On July 10, Chamberlain 
further defined Britain's determination to defend Poland by joining 
France in forbidding any unilateral change in the status of Danzig. 
The Russian alliance was still taken for granted. On July 21, Moscow 
announced that trade negotiations with Germany had begun, but 
ten days later Chamberlain told the House of Commons that an 
Anglo-French military mission was setting out for Moscow to 
engage in staff talks with the Soviet high command. Clearly the 
mutual assistance pact was assured. In fact, negotiations had pro- 
gressed so far that Mr. Strang returned to London. After all, great 
nations do not share their military secrets until they have ironed out 
all their political differences and agreed on a common program. 


Russia had perhaps been naive in suggesting staff talks in March 
when Hitler violated the Munich agreement, but after so many 
months of negotiation with the British and French experts, the 
foundations of a common foreign poUcy appeared — at least to the 
French and the British — to be securely laid. 

These negotiations, culminating in the visit of the military mission 
to Moscow, were naturally supposed to frighten Hitler into backing 
down. And, for a while, it looked as if the maneuver might succeed. 
After his occupation of Bohemia and Moravia in March, his seizure 
of Memel, and his threats against Poland in April, he seemed to be 
quieting down. Something evidently went wrong when he delivered 
a speech at the launching of a German battleship at the end of May 
and the broadcast to the world was abruptly cut off. Several shoot- 
ings occurred in the neighborhood of Danzig and large numbers of 
German troops, disguised as "tourists," were pouring into the Free 
City. But Hitler did not choose to make war, although he had helped 
to create plenty of incidents that he might have used as an excuse 
for war. 

Since April, furthermore, his propaganda had taken a new tone. 
He railed against the Poles just as he had railed against the Czechs 
before the Munich crisis, but this time he also railed against the 
British and accused them of goading the Poles into war. But the 
propaganda that made the greatest impression of all was the old cry 
of "Encirclement" that he raised in connection with the Anglo- 
Soviet negotiations. If the British thought that this move would 
make the German people see that Hitler was leading them into a dis- 
astrous war, they certainly miscalculated, for most Germans were 
still convinced that Britain had encircled them with a hostile ring of 
alliances in 1914; and these new guarantees to Poland, Rumania, 
Greece, and Turkey, coupled with the Russian negotiations, made it 
look as if history were repeating itself. And instead of destroying 
confidence in the Fiihrer, this policy served only to rally the Ger- 
mans around him more enthusiastically than ever. In consequence, 
British propagandists had their hands full trying to convince the 
German people that they were not the victims of a sinister "en- 
circlement" plot but were being led to destruction by a blind and 
arrogant leader. 


By the summer o£ 1939, German propaganda and German foreign 
policy were entering a new phase. During his first years in power, 
Hitler had directed most o£ his fire against the Jews and the Com- 
munists. Then, after he began militarizing the Rhineland in 1936, 
he turned his propaganda against his smaller neighbors — first the 
Czechs and then the Poles. Of course he always railed against the 
Versailles Treaty and the "pluto-democracies," but it was not until 
the spring and summer of 1939 that he began to single out England 
as Germany's chief enemy. And Britain returned the compliment. 

At this point in our story, as the hour of the final showdown 
draws near, it becomes necessary to pause a moment, not to retrace 
our steps, but to define the fundamental, the irrepressible, conflict 
that broke loose in Europe between September i and September 3, 
1939. We have followed some of the most important events up to 
the eve of the conflict; but before we pursue the story to its bloody 
conclusion, let us see if we can discover what caused the rival groups 
to resort finally to war as an instrument of national policy. 

Straight imperialist rivalry certainly played a considerable role. By 
the summer of 1939 Hitler controlled more of Europe than the 
Kaiser did in 1914. If the British and French had permitted him to 
take over Poland as he had taken over Czechoslovakia, nothing 
could have prevented him from controlling all of Europe beyond the 
Rhine. His alliance with Italy would then give him control of the 
eastern Mediterranean; his connection with Spain would seriously 
threaten the French position in North Africa and would make Gi- 
braltar completely useless to Great Britain. Although Hitler may 
have sincerely believed that he did not threaten the overseas empires 
of either Britain or France, he could not have failed to come into 
conflict with them in the Near East and in North Africa sooner 
or later. 

Considerations of sheer power politics and imperial dominion 
therefore forced the British and the French to take a stand against 
further German encroachments. But there were other factors at 
work. Ever since the World War of 1914, the rulers of the British 
Empire wisely perceived that their power had passed its zenith at 
the turn of the century. Although they emerged in 1919 with more 
territories than they possessed five years before, they read the hand- 


writing on the wall and believed that from then on their principal 
task was not one of further aggrandizement but one of concession, 
compromise, and even of retreat. By 1939, therefore, their principal 
concern was to see that this retreat did not degenerate into a rout. 

What compHcates their problem is that they face several enemies 
on several fronts. In their colonial possessions, in India, Egypt, and 
the Near East, they must cope with a national independence move- 
ment. As the colonial peoples have slowly adopted western ways and 
western civilization, they have developed a native middle class which 
wants more economic and poHtical power and which is in a position 
to make good its claims. Roughly speaking, it is the story of the 
American Revolution all over again and the British have learned 
from that experience the wisdom of making concessions to the inevi- 
table. They have done it in their Dominions. They are beginning to 
do it in India and Egypt; but it took a Gandhi with his threat of 
virtual revolution to force the British to give India at least the 
rudiments of a new constitution and the beginnings of home rule. 

If this were the only threat to the British Empire, if all that the 
rulers of England had to do was make gradual concessions to the 
four hundred million subject peoples over whom they rule, the 
transition process might be a peaceful and even a profitable one 
because the standard of living of these colonial regions has risen 
steadily. But there are other forces abroad in the world. In the Far 
East there is the Empire of Japan which is pursuing in the twentieth 
century the same policies of imperial expansion that Great Britain 
pursued in the eighteenth and nineteenth and which is invading 
various British preserves. Just as Britain used to be able to under- 
sell competitors in the world markets, so Japan with its rationalized 
factories and low labor costs is getting a larger and larger share of 
trade in the Far East and is following up its economic conquests 
with a program of military expansion. 

Britain has tried to play off the Japanese imperialists against the 
Chinese nationalists, supporting first one and then the other in the 
hope that they would wear themselves out fighting. It has also en- 
couraged the Japanese to attack the Soviet Union. These efforts, how- 
ever, have met with only indifferent success, with the result that 
during the 1920's the British had to retreat in the face of the ad- 


vancing wave of nationalist revolution from China while during 
the 1930's they had to retreat in the face of the advancing wave of 
Japan's imperial expansion. 

But Britain's chief enemy for the past twenty years has not been 
colonial revolution, Japanese imperialism, or Chinese nationalism. 
It has been the spectre of social revolution. From the time of the 
Russian revolution until after the rise of Hitler, the Soviet Union 
embodied this force, and British diplomacy opposed Russia more 
consistently than it opposed any other nation. For Russia represented 
a double threat. In the Far East, the Russians supported the most 
extreme revolutionary parties in China and India, while the most 
powerful revolutionary movement in Europe drew its inspiration 
from the Communist International, which maintained headquarters 
at Moscow. 

Just as the British tried to play off the Chinese nationalists against 
the Japanese imperialists in Asia, so it tried to play off the Russian 
Communists against the German Nazis in Europe. The British oil 
magnate, the late Sir Henri Deterding, contributed to Hitler's cam- 
paign funds because he saw in the Nazi movement an instrument 
to attack the Soviet Union and to regain his petroleum wells that 
the Russians had confiscated. Even Lloyd George greeted Hitler as 
a welcome alternative to Communism, and after the Munich Agree- 
ment, Lord Lothian, the British ambassador to the United States, 
gave Hitler his blessing. A large section of British conservative 
opinion, popularly known as the Cliveden set because they used to 
foregather at Lady Astor's country estate of that name, constantly 
urged the government — with no small success — to support Hitler in 
the hope of turning him against Russia. A group of influential 
bankers and industrialists — Montagu Norman, Governor of the 
Bank of England; Lord McGowan, Chairman of the Board of Im- 
perial Chemicals Industries; Lord Stamp, President of the Midland 
Railway — organized the Anglo-German Fellowship to work toward 
better relations with the Nazis. 

It was not that they loved Hitler much; it was that they hated 
Stalin more. And they hated Stalin not because he was a Russian 
but because to them he embodied the supreme enemy of the British 
Empire — social revolution. Hitler, of course, had revolutionary at- 


tributes too. He had shown scant respect for private property and 
as time went on he discriminated more and more against the privi- 
leged classes in Germany. 

The eflforts of the British Conservatives to play ofif the German 
Nazis against the Russian Communists reached its peak at the 
Munich Conference. Already, of course, the British National Gov- 
ernment had refused to apply oil sanctions against MussoHni during 
his Ethiopian campaign and had withheld arms from the legal 
government of LoyaHst Spain while the Germans and Italians 
rushed men and munitions to Franco. But Russia was helping 
the Loyalists and the British Conservatives therefore preserved 
the kind of neutraHty that enabled the Rebels to win. For what- 
ever the shortcomings of the Nazis, they were the sworn enemies 
of Communism and therefore, by definition, were fighting Britain's 

It was not until Hitler violated the Munich Agreement that 
German Nazism suddenly became the greater evil and Russian 
Communism the lesser evil. Hitler, not StaUn, became the chief 
bogey-man of the British Conservatives, as he had long been the 
chief bogey-man of the Liberals and Laborites; and on that issue 
Chamberlain quickly achieved national unity. At the time of the 
Czechoslovak crisis, British public opinion had not quite solidified 
against Hitler. The Cliveden set still spoke for a considerable 
section of the propertied classes, but the total destruction of Czecho- 
slovakia six months after Hitler had guaranteed its independence 
for twenty-five years proved a rude shock. 

At this point British diplomacy therefore set about spinning the 
same web of aUiances around Germany that King Edward VII had 
spun around the Kaiser. But where Edward VII had devoted 
several years to the task of encircling Germany, Chamberlain tried 
to improvise a similar network of alliances in several weeks — and 
that immediately after seven years of trying to pit the Germans 
against the Russians. 

During these years, English people of all classes had the same 
difficulty that everybody else had in understanding the Nazi move- 
ment. The dominant faction in the Conservative Party comforted 
itself with the wishful thought that Fascism was simply capitalism 


with the gloves off — a delusion that the Communists encouraged. 
Therefore the National Government cheerfully surrendered Britain's 
imperial interests in Spain and in Czechoslovakia on the theory that 
they were promoting the interests of private property and checking 
Communism. Other Conservatives — notably Winston Churchill — 
simply regarded Hitler as a bigger and better imperialist than the 
Kaiser, and placed the defense of their imperial interests ahead of 
the defense of their class interests. To the Liberals and Laborites, 
Hitler was the fiend of hell, and though this theory did not ex- 
plain very much, it provided a comfortable outlet for moral in- 

There was, however, a minority in all parties who recognized 
more and more clearly that Hitler had started a revolution of a kind. 
"Every nation has its own form of Bolshevism," remarked a corre- 
spondent of the London Economist in the early days of the Hider 
regime, and this opinion gradually gained ground. By the spring 
of 1939 the translation of such books as Dr. Hermann Rauschning's 
The Revolution of Nihilism and the complete version of Mein 
Kampf presented the Hitler movement in all its details. But almost 
everyone in England — certainly everyone in a position of power — 
still assumed that Hitler's revolution and Stalin's revolution could 
never make common cause. Indeed, Communism became almost 
respectable with its collective security and popular-front slogans, 
whereas the Nazis looked more and more like revolutionaries. 

After all, consider what the Nazi movement had done in Germany 
and Central Europe. It had completely expropriated all Jewish capi- 
talists in Germany and in what used to be Austria. It had tried to 
drive the Evangelical Churches underground by setting up a new 
version of Christianity. It had persecuted and expropriated the 
Catholics. It had taken complete control of all schools, colleges, news- 
papers, publishing houses, radio stations, and every other channel of 
communication. It had outlawed all political opposition and sup- 
pressed all individual liberty. It had set up a system of taxation and 
"voluntary" contributions that destroyed all the smaller fortunes in 
the country and that had made the acquisition of wealth virtually 
impossible. It set up such control over currency and foreign ex- 
change that it was impossible for any German to get his money out 


of the country or even to spend it as he chose inside Germany. It 
had placed virtually supreme power in the hands of a new class 
which was certainly not the proletariat but which contained no big 
landowners, bankers, or industrialists either. Operating largely with 
middle-class support, a tightly organized group of adventurers 
seized complete power and what is more important — held it. This 
might not be revolution on the Russian model, but it certainly 
transformed the life of the country and shook the rest of Europe 
as no other event since the Russian Revolution had shaken it. 

Confronted with this mighty movement, the British Conservatives 
did everything except face it. Sometimes they pretended that the 
Nazi movement did not exist. Sometimes they tried to pass it ofl 
as a fit of madness that had seized the German people. Sometimes 
they looked upon Hitler as their best friend. Sometimes they thought 
he was the reincarnation of Attila — or of the poor old Kaiser. It 
took more than seven years for the Nazi revolution to become recog- 
nized for what it really was : a mass movement — ^perverted and mis- 
begotten, it is true — that was destined nevertheless to change the face 
of Europe. 

The Showdown 

This recognition first made itself felt in the form of rumors about 
a possible alliance between Russia and Germany. Leon Trotsky had 
been prophesying something of the sort for years and then, a week 
after Munich, Walter Duranty of the New Yor\ Times, who has 
stood closer to Stalin than any other foreign newspaperman in 
Russia, dropped the hint that the Nazis and the Communists might 
work together. More and more journalists took up the refrain, but 
articles on the subject remained pure speculation, mere "think- 
pieces," that would appear from time to time to fill space and lend 
a touch of variety to the news. It seemed too fantastic to enter into 
the calculations of serious statesmen. 

And then, over the next-to-last weekend in August, the news 
broke. On Saturday, the 19th, Viscount Halifax not only cut short 
his vacation; he returned unexpectedly to the Foreign Office on the 
ground that Germany's war of nerves over Danzig seemed to be 
heading for a crisis. President Lebrun of France spent the day in- 


specting the Maginot Line. The Pope renewed his appeals for peace. 
Slovakia announced that its army was mobilizing and that its troops 
were joining German troops already established on the PoHsh- 
Slovak frontier. 

The next day the world at large began to get an inkling of what 
was actually happening. While the Anglo-French military mission 
was still trying to swing the Soviet Union into the "peace front" 
against Germany, the Russians and Germans announced that they 
had signed a trade agreement whereby the Nazis agreed to extend 
credits totalling 200,000,000 marks for the purchase of Russian raw 
materials. Foreign observers in Moscow, however, insisted that the 
arrangement had no political significance and would simply revive 
the exchange of German manufactured products for Russian wheat 
and oil. During the six years since Hitler had come into power, 
Russo-German trade had declined 90 percent, and even this large 
credit was not sufficient to restore it to the pre-Hitler level. 

The following day, however, the Germans and Russians "imple- 
mented," as the expression goes, their economic agreement with a 
ten-year non-aggression pact. This made the 21st of August "blue 
Monday" not only for the British, the French, and the Poles, but for 
all the smaller nations from the Baltic Sea down through the Balkan 
peninsula. For twenty-four hours the Communist press outside 
Russia made no comment whatever on this sensational about-face 
because it was the foreign Communists who had been loudest in 
their denunciations of Fascism and most belligerent in their attitude 
toward Hitler. Indeed, several self-appointed "friends of the Soviet 
Union" in various countries rushed into print with premature as- 
surances that the pact, which had not yet been made pubHc, con- 
tained an escape clause whereby Russia would not be compelled to 
honor it if Germany embarked on a war of aggression. On August 
22, Germany's Foreign Minister, von Ribbentrop, flew to Moscow. 
The next day he affixed his signature; and on August 24, the text of 
the pact revealed that the two countries had bound themselves not 
to associate "with any other grouping of powers which directly or 
indirectly is aimed at the other party." Far from providing a basis 
for purely peacetime collaboration, the pact did not go into full 
effect until one of the parties actually engaged in war. 


Meanwhile the rest of the world made desperate efforts to adjust 
itself to the new political situation. Japan felt the effects of the pact 
more immediately and vitally than any other country. Although not 
ofKcially allied to the Germans, the Japanese had signed the anti- 
Comintern Pact with Hitler which the Russo-German Pact made a 
dead letter over night. The Russians, furthermore, took advantage 
of this new state of affairs to increase their activities on the Outer 
Mongolian frontier where they had been waging an unofficial war 
against the Japanese for several months. 

Hostilities increased rapidly and the Japanese soon took alarm. 
Premier Hiranuma, who had been pushing the war against China 
to the limit and who had not hesitated to throw Japanese troops 
against the Soviet-trained and Soviet-equipped troops of Outer Mon- 
goHa, consulted other leaders, all of whom agreed that the Russo- 
German pact would force a sudden change in Japanese foreign 
policy. On August 28, the Emperor of Japan accepted the resignation 
of the entire Hiranuma Cabinet and ordered the more moderate 
General Abe to form a new government. The next day the Japanese 
rushed more troops to the Outer Mongolian frontier, and for the 
first time admitted they had suffered reverses in that part of the 
world. They said the Russians had concentrated 300,000 men against 
them, but the Russians insisted that they had not sent any new troops 
to the Far East because they were reinforcing their western frontiers. 

It subsequently developed, of course, that the Russo-German pact 
did not lead to a substantial Russian drive in the Far East, for on 
September 15, the Russians and Japanese signed an armistice. But 
even that armistice did not rule out of consideration the eventual 
prospect of increased Russian activity in Asia. The moment the 
Russo-German non-aggression pact was announced, a good many 
observers said it meant that the Soviet Union was withdrawing from 
Europe and concentrating all its energies on Asia. Hitler was said to 
have sacrificed the friendship of Japan in Asia in order to win the 
benevolent neutrality of Russia in Europe. Indeed, it was prophesied 
in some quarters that the Germans might ultimately help the Rus- 
sians industrialize China after the Japanese invader had been driven 

But the immediate crisis in Europe soon overshadowed the long- 


range possibilities in Asia. On August 22, a four-hour meeting of 
the British Cabinet summoned a special session of Parliament for 
August 24. Premier Daladier of France conferred with General 
Gamelin, Chief of Staff of the French Army, and it was announced 
that a million and a half Frenchmen were already under arms. On 
August 23, the British and French warned Hitler that they were 
calling up a combined army of 2,500,000 men and that the British 
Navy was ready to blockade Germany. At the same time. Hitler 
received Sir Nevile Henderson, the British ambassador, who handed 
him what the Fiihrer called Britain's "aggressive demands" to pre- 
serve peace. These demands simply repeated the point that the 
British had made time and again: that they were prepared to help 
negotiate a settlement of the Polish situation, but that the negotia- 
tions must not be held under a threat of force, and that the Poles 
could not be presented with an ultimatum. If any such attempt were 
made, the British would fight. 

The British emphasized this point repeatedly because they did 
not want the history of 1914 to repeat itself. At that time British 
diplomacy was held responsible in some quarters for having brought 
on the war because it did not convince the Germans that Britain 
would fight in the event of an invasion of Belgium. Whether that 
charge is true or false does not concern us here; the point is that the 
British were making every effort in 1939 to prevent the same charge 
from being raised again. And to make assurance doubly sure, the 
British on August 25 placed on record a new and even more binding 
treaty to defend Poland against direct or indirect aggression. The 
Chamberlain Government left no stone unturned in its effort to 
convince Hitler that it was not bluffing and that this time Britain 
would fight. 

Meanwhile, President Roosevelt took a hand in the crisis. On 
August 24, he appealed to King Victor Emmanuel of Italy to use 
his good offices to settle the European crisis without war. The House 
of Savoy was known to disapprove of the alliance with Germany, 
and even Mussolini appeared to have been taken by surprise when 
Hitler signed up with Stalin. Throughout all these agitated days, 
Mussolini kept a strange silence, and even Roosevelt's letter to King 
Victor Emmanuel did not change matters. The King agreed to do 


what he could to keep the peace, but the Roosevelt letter did not 
produce a break between Mussolini and the King or between Musso- 
lini and Hitler. 

At the same time that Roosevelt wrote to the King of Italy he 
dispatched identical messages to Hitler and to President Moscicki of 
Poland, suggesting various methods by which they might avoid war. 
Moscicki replied the next day that he would be glad to negotiate in 
line with one of the proposals which Roosevelt had put forward, and 
the American President forwarded this message to Hitler who had 
had not yet made a reply of his own. On August 28, Hitler signified 
that he would be willing to have some friend, such as Mussolini 
(who had meanwhile given his belated approval to the German 
demands on Poland) arbitrate a settlement, but that he could go no 
further than that. By this time the ItaUans had a million and a half 
men under arms, and Mussolini's star was rising in the European 
firmament. Was the history of the 1938 crisis which reached its 
climax at Munich repeating itself.? 

Events in the three chief European capitals — London, Paris, and 
Berlin — gave little encouragement to that view. On August 24, the 
day after Hitler received the British government's "aggressive" pro- 
posals from Ambassador Henderson, he talked to the British envoy 
for fifteen minutes. Henderson emerged speechless. At the same 
time, the Danzig Senate voted to make Albert Forster, the Nazi 
Party leader in the city, chief of state, and the Polish Government 
announced that it would not tolerate the annexation of Danzig by 
Germany. It was also on August 24 that the PoHsh army completed 
occupation of its places of combat. The French rushed hundreds of 
thousands of reservists to the frontier and the evacuation of Paris 

On August 25, the Nazis brought the war of nerves to a new 
height of tension by suddenly cutting all telephone and cable serv- 
ices between Berlin and the outside world. They also called oflF the 
celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Battle of Tannen- 
berg (at which Russian troops had been driven off German soil in 
the opening month of the first World War). Hitler had been ex- 
pected to use this date — August 28 — to make an important announce- 


merit; but perhaps his new treaty with Russia would have made the 
occasion an embarrassing one. 

On August 26, the British Cabinet failed to reach any agreement 
on a reply to Hitler's terms as conveyed by Sir Nevile Henderson 
who had flown with them from Berlin. The French ambassador, 
however, delivered his government's reply. He told the Germans - 
that France did not want to fight but would keep her word to War- 
saw, and that if Germany wanted a peaceful solution she would 
have to negotiate with Poland as an equal. The next day Hitler 
wrote a seven-page personal letter to Daladier, rejecting the French 
proposals but begging the French Premier not to fight for Poland. 
Hitler revealed that his demands on Poland included the return of 
Danzig and the Corridor as well as other "adjustments" at Poland's 

Not until Monday, August 28, did Hitler receive Britain's reply 
to the proposals he had laid before Henderson on August 24; and 
after three solid days of discussion the British Cabinet reaffirmed its 
intention to support Poland. Hitler and his advisers at once went to 
work on a reply which was received in London the same night. 
Prime Minister Chamberlain and Foreign Secretary Halifax stayed 
up until almost dawn studying it. This time, however, the British 
acted more rapidly than they had the week before. It took them only 
twenty-four hours to reject Hitler's proposals — the same that he had 
made to Daladier — and to decline his suggestion that they persuade 
the Poles to send an "emissary" to Berlin for the purpose of "ratify- 
ing" the return of Danzig and the Corridor. The Poles found Hit- 
ler's proposals insulting and called an additional million men to the 

On August 31 came the showdown. For the better part of a week, 
the Supreme Soviet, which had been summoned in special session to 
consider, among other things, the non-aggression treaty with Ger- 
many, had been postponing final ratification. Actually, the pact did 
not require this ratification to go into effect, but the gesture had at 
least symbolic significance and the delay looked more than symbolic. 
Perhaps Stalin was preparing to give Hitler the "double double- 
cross" that some of the more skeptical observers of the sudden love- 
feast between the Communists and the Nazis had been prophesying 


right along. But the skeptics had to stifle their doubts when the 
Supreme Soviet unanimously ratified the agreement and Premier 
and Foreign Minister Molotov made a speech in its defense. And 
simultaneously with this move on the part of Russia, the German 
Government published the sixteen-point proposal it had made to 
Poland. It had refused to submit this proposal in writing to the 
British ambassador and the Poles claim they never saw the terms 
until after the ultimatum they contained had expired. 

The final ratification of the Russo-German Pact and the publica- 
tion of Germany's sixteen-point ultimatum to Poland set off the 
explosion. At 5:11 a.m. on Friday, September i, Hitler issued a 
proclamation to the German army and at 5:45 a.m. the German 
high command announced that German troops were rapidly ad- 
vancing into Polish territory. German airplanes bombarded Polish 
cities, concentrating in all cases except Warsaw on mihtary objec- 
tives. The attack was not accompanied by a declaration of war. In 
fact, the PoHsh ambassador to Berlin protested Germany's invasion 
of his country's territory and then quit his post, severing diplomatic 
relations. As for Hitler, he told a cheering Reichstag, whose mem- 
bers were dressed, like himself, in field-gray uniforms, "I will lead 
you to victory, and if not to victory, then to my own death. For I 
shall not live in defeat." 

But the war had not yet irrevocably begun. Prime Minister 
Chamberlain told the British Parliament that unless Germany sus- 
pended military operations against Poland, Britain would fight. The 
French declared a state of siege and decreed general mobilization. 
On September 2, the British and French sent a new ultimatum to 
Hitler giving him until noon on Sunday, September 3 to stop the 
war. Count Ciano, the Italian Foreign Minister, conferred with the 
French ambassador to Rome, thus giving added strength to the 
rumor that had begun to circulate before the crisis came to a head 
that the Rome-Berlin Axis had collapsed. What happened was this. 
Shortly before Hider presented his demands to Poland, he had con- 
ferred with the Italian Foreign Minister at Berchtesgaden. Edgar 
Ansel Mowrer and H. R. Knickerbocker, two of the most reliable 
American newspapermen in Europe, reported afterward that it had 
been a stormy interview during which Hitler had ranted and raved 


because Ciano had refused to support him against Poland. After all, 
only a few months before Mussolini had declared that there was no 
problem in Europe worth a war that year. 

But when the showdown came, the men in responsible positions 
thought otherwise. Hitler paid no more heed to Britain's warning of 
September 2 than he had to previous warnings. The British and 
French had left no possible room for doubt that they would go to 
war if Hitler invaded Poland. They had taken a stand on this issue 
so firmly, so frequently, and with such increasing emphasis that they 
could not back down without surrendering not only all their moral 
pretensions but much of their worldly power as well. That even 
Hitler understood this is clear, for his case against the British and 
the French all along rested not on their final decision to fight but on 
their original decision to make Poland the issue on which they took 
their stand. Indeed, if anybody expected any backing down, it was 
the British and French, who expected Hitler to moderate his de- 
mands, rather than Hitler, who expected the British and French to 
make a last-minute retreat. The final declaration of war therefore 
came as no surprise to any of the chief actors in the drama. At eleven 
fifteen on Sunday morning, September 3, fifteen minutes after their 
ultimatum to Germany had expired, the British declared war on 
Germany. Six hours later, under the terms of the ultimatum, France 
entered the war automatically on Britain's side. 


Chamberlain, Neville, In Search of Peace, Putnam, 1939. 

Churchill, Winston, Step by Step, Putnam, 1939. 

Drucker, Peter P., The End of Economic Man, Day, 1939. 

Gunther, John, Inside Europe, Harper, 1938. 

Hitler, Adolf, Mein Kampf, Reynal & Hitchcock, 1939. 

Kessler, Harry, Walther Rathenau, London, 1933. 

Rauschning, Herman, The Revolution of Nihilism, Alliance, 1939. 

Reed, Douglas, Insanity Fair, Random House, 1938, 

Voigt, F. A., Unto Caesar, Putnam, 1938, 





Fran"^ B. Wolf 

Kaymond Prince Montecuccoli, an Austrian generalissimo of the 
^ war-torn seventeenth century, is reported to have remarked 
that three things are essential for warfare: first, money; second, 
money; and, third, money. The dependence of successful warfare on 
economic and, more particularly, on financial strength has rarely 
been expressed more clearly, but it has been recognized since ancient 
times. Only the most primitive of societies did not know such a 
problem; wandering tribes of hunters and herdsmen could maintain 
themselves when at war in the same way that they did in peace time. 
When agricultural settlement was followed by some division of labor, 
men could no longer leave their work without being compensated 
for the loss of their livelihood. They also had to be provisioned with 
food, clothing, and weapons : war had to be financed. Gradually the 
state of industrial art changed, mihtary equipment was influenced, 
and war became more costly. 

As time went on, the economic problems of warfare increased in 
size, but their nature did not change greatly. Up to and through the 
nineteenth century, no more than a small part of the population 
participated in war. Without mechanical means of transportation, 
large armies could not be assembled. Nor would it have been possible 



to provision them. Furthermore, their cost would have been pro- 
hibitive because the financial system was not flexible enough to 
mobilize large sums on short notice. Moderate stores of war material 
could be prepared in peace time. And this was sometimes done. 
Governments, notably that of the Kings of Prussia, also set aside 
sums of money to meet the cost of a campaign. For the most part, 
however, money was raised by whatever means possible during the 
course of hostilities, and food, equipment, and ammunition were 
procured as need arose. Merchants and manufacturers who could sell 
supplies would often reap extraordinary profits. Taxpayers might 
have to carry a heavy burden and the people of a conquered territory 
an even heavier one. Economic life was subject to numerous disturb- 
ances and unusual strains, but for the bulk of the population there 
was no essential change in their pursuit of business. 

It is characteristic that the first traces of a basic change are con- 
nected with the French Revolution. The levee en masse created 
the first army drawn from the masses rather than from a group of 
professional soldiers. The supply of food, arms, and ammunition 
involved a correspondingly larger task than had hitherto been 
necessary in warfare. It stimulated the development of the iron in- 
dustry in France which had up to that time been dependent on Eng- 
land for iron and steel. Even greater economic changes occurred in 
connection with the Napoleonic wars in the wake of the Revolution. 
For the first time economic policy itself became an instrument of 
warfare on a substantial scale. Napoleon tried to close the Continent 
to all British trade in order to subdue Britain by economic frustra- 
tion. One result of this self-imposed blockade was the creation of the 
first modern substitute industry: beet sugar mills sprang up to re- 
place the cane sugar which could no longer be imported from over- 
seas. However, Napoleon's great scheme eventually failed. The Con- 
tinental system could not be fully enforced. Even a complete inter- 
ruption of her trade with the Continent might not have subdued 
Britain, who was not yet dependent on international trade for exist- 
ence, though far ahead of any other country in developing it. Not 
until the twentieth century was economic warfare to be revived, this 
time by Britain herself, and successfully. 

During the nineteenth century, the spiritual and intellectual forces 


unleashed by the American and French Revolutions brought about 
the most radical and rapid changes in technology and economy 
throughout the civilized world. The elements of modern warfare 
were developed. Industries grew up and multiplied; banking and 
credit systems developed on a large scale; modern transportation 
made swift movements of men and materials possible; nations be- 
came economically and socially integrated; conscription was intro- 
duced in important countries and well-equipped standing armies 
were created in others. Yet the wars that followed the Napoleonic 
period up to and including the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 
failed to reflect the sweeping economic and social changes to any 
great extent. The nations were slow in adopting for war purposes 
the possibilities inherent in the industrial revolution. Economy for 
the most part retained its peacetime characteristics during war. 

How War Economy Developed 

The swiftest changes of industrial life, of course, did not mate- 
rialize until the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The arma- 
ment race which resulted from growing political tension during the 
first decade of the twentieth century caused the major armies to take 
greater advantage of scientific and industrial progress. More effective 
rifles, rapid-fire machine guns, long-range artillery, and high ex- 
plosives were developed. Warships were equipped with numerous 
technological devices and such a typical product of modern engi- 
neering as the submarine appeared. Armies and navies also grew 
steadily larger. Thus, they became ever more dependent on modern 
industry. However, the full implication of these changes was not 
realized. The general staffs prepared mobilization plans down to the 
most minute detail. Every member of the reserve forces knew in 
advance that he had to appear at an appointed place a given number 
of days and hours after the proclamation of a state of war. Clothing, 
equipment, and arms were always kept ready for him. Railroad 
schedules for the transportation of the troops to the border were 
fully prepared. The strategic plan for the attack on each potential 
enemy was completely laid out. Yet economic and industrial prepara- 
tion was scanty indeed. 

In 1914 Germany was more systematically prepared for war than 


any other country. Important sections of her railroad system had 
been built in accordance with the strategic plans of the general staff. 
Some reserve capacity for the manufacture of arms and munitions 
was available. After the withdrawal of French credits during the 
Morocco incident in 191 1, the Germans carefully strengthened their 
banking system and planned a system of special small loan banks 
for the outbreak of war. Larger amounts of gold and silver were set 
aside for the Imperial War Chest. An extraordinary capital tax for 
armament purposes was levied in 1913. Despite all these preparations 
and although the military plans were based on the assumption of a 
war against Russia, France, and possibly England, no consideration 
had been given to Germany's dependence on international commerce 
for a large part of her foodstuffs and industrial raw materials. No 
arrangements had been made for adapting industry to war purposes 
excepting some quite inadequate provisions for extending work in 
the government arsenals. Food rationing, price fixing, exchange con- 
trol, and numerous other government regulations of business that 
were to emerge, had not even been thought of. 

Nor had any other country made any economic war preparations 
to speak of. Of course, in every country there were a few clear- 
sighted men who realized that a war between highly industrialized 
nations would inevitably present entirely new problems. Still, most 
of them were only afraid of the shock to business that would result 
from the outbreak of war and did not foresee the enormous demand 
for goods that was to follow. It was also recognized that the disrup- 
tion of international commerce would be a great strain to the 
national economies; yet this recognition led only to doubting that 
a war was still possible. Such doubt was expressed by no lesser au- 
thority than Alfred Graf von Schlieffen^ who for many years had 
been Chief of the German General Staff and had decisively influ- 
enced Germany's strategy. Despite his uncertainty as to whether war 
could break out between nations so interdependent economically, 
he made all the war preparations he considered feasible and based 
them on the aforementioned assumption of a simultaneous war 

^ See Alfred Graf von Schlieffen, "Der Krieg in der Gegenwart," first pub- 
lished anonymously in Deutsche Revue, vol. 34, Stuttgart, 1909, p. 13; re- 
printed in Alfred Graf von Schlieffen, Cannae, edited by Freiherr von Freytag- 
Loringhoven, Berlin, 1925. 


against Russia, France, and England. In the event of such a war, 
Germany would be in a dangerous position economically. Schlieffen 
reahzed this, but his only conclusion was that it was all the more 
urgent for Germany to follow her classical strategic doctrine of con- 
centrating all efforts on forcing an early decision by a swift and 
strong attack. Not only did he want a short war; he was convinced 
that modern means of transportation and modern arms would make 
a long war very unlikely. 

The Improvisations of igi4 

The expectation of a short war was shared in every other country, 
and it was probably the most important reason for the general neg- 
lect of economic preparation. However, soon after the actual out- 
break in August 1914, it became evident that further economic 
measures were indispensable, regardless of the duration of hostilities. 
Gradually war economy emerged, step by step, quite incidentally 
and without any preconceived plan. 

It started in Germany because, being shut off from so many of 
her normal sources of supply, she had to cope with the problem 
earlier than other belligerents. Immediately after the outbreak of 
hostilities, the Minister of the Interior grew concerned over a 
possible shortage of grain and other foodstuffs. He turned for advice 
to Albert Ballin, creator of the German merchant marine, who 
with the help of his own involuntarily idle staff established a semi- 
official company for importing foodstuffs through neutral countries, 
one which competed with private commerce though operating on 
behalf and for the sole benefit of the government. At about the same 
time, Walther Rathenau, president of the German General Electric 
Company, persuaded the Minister of War to establish a department 
of control over those industrial raw materials in danger of depletion. 
Rathenau himself was put in charge of the department and he 
started by regulating the supply of metals and rubber. 

Thus, government interference with business began. A few months 
later, maximum prices were prescribed for certain goods. January, 
1915, saw the issue of ration cards for bread. Foreign trade was under 
some control almost from the beginning of the war, but the regula- 
tions gradually intensified. Numerous special government agencies 


were created to control materials that had become scarce, and to 
regulate industries that were in difficulties. The ordnance depart- 
ments of the armed forces, of course, were also influential factors as 
were other military and civil authorities who expanded their sphere 
of control. Eventually the government's domination of business was 
fully established and, in 1916, its command was made fully effective 
by the creation of two central agencies: the first, controlling the 
food supply and the second, directing all other phases of economic 

Other belligerent countries experienced a similar haphazard 
growth of government interference with all phases of business. 
And everywhere the complete control of business by the govern- 
ment emerged as the final result of the period of improvisations. 
France was in a more difficult situation than any other country. She 
had suffered from the same disruption of her economy as did other 
belligerents; but in addition, she was crippled by the German inva- 
sion of her important industrial areas, with consequently severe re- 
ductions of her munitions output. Government activity had to be 
directed towards reintegrating economic activities and increasing 
production in the rest of the country. The artillery ordnance de- 
partment was mobilized for this work and subsequently became the 
nucleus of the Ministry of Armament formed a few months later. 
Its actual influence on the national economy reached far beyond the 
sphere indicated by its title, and this earlier than in other belHgerent 
countries as a result of the more pressing emergency. 

England started out by instituting complete control of her rail- 
roads, which, incidentally, had been prepared for war long in 
advance. An improvised measure, however, was the centralization 
of all sugar imports. In peace time, Britain had imported most of 
her sugar from Germany and Hungary; now she had to turn to new 
sources of supply, principally Cuba and Java. Concentration of buy- 
ing seemed necessary in order to avoid an undue rise in prices. The 
centralization of beef imports was a similar exercise of business judg- 
ment. Otherwise, there was practically no difficulty of supply at the 
outset of the war, and in characteristic fashion everybody was most 
concerned with keeping the interference of war with peacetime 
economy at a minimum. "Business as usual" was the generally ac- 


cepted maxim of the day. But it could not last long. The numerous 
ordnance departments and procurement divisions of the armed 
forces in making purchases for their increased requirements found 
themselves competing with each other for the output of industries 
with limited capacity — and the inevitable result was rapid increases 
in prices. Some more systematic form of organization became essen- 
tial if the government was to obtain what it wanted. Competitive 
bidding was replaced by collective bargaining as associations and 
committees authorized to speak on behalf of a whole industry were 
organized to conduct negotiations. In the spring of 1915, a Ministry 
of Munitions was created which classified all industry according to 
its importance for the pursuit of war. Price-fixing was introduced, 
mainly on a cost-plus basis. The number of government agencies, 
boards, and committees increased rapidly and by 1916 government 
direction had reached every corner of the land and every phase of 
the national economy. 

Full-Fledged War Economy E^nerges in igi6 

In all belligerent nations government interference had started with 
isolated efforts at straightening out a few difficulties caused by the 
economic disruptions at the outbreak of the war. However, as soon 
as one gap was bridged, a new one appeared and another govern- 
ment agency came into being. Solving its particular problem, it 
created new dislocations somewhere else. In reality, there were no 
particular and separated difficulties; there was only one problem: 
the ordinary demand of the population and the vastly increased 
requirements of the armed forces could not possibly be satisfied by 
the existing means of production. War economy was the direct result 
of the new method of warfare. 

When the German plan to achieve a quick decision was defeated 
in the Battle of the Marne, a new phase in the history of warfare 
began. The field fortifications of either army, defended by modern 
arms, could be successfully attacked only by a force far superior in 
numbers. Yet neither opponent was able to raise an army sufficiently 
larger than the other. Superiority had to be sought in the quality and 
quantity of equipment and ammunition: the application of modern 
methods of industrial mass production was the logical way to victory 


and the only protection against defeat. Within six months after the 
estabhshment of the Ministry of Munitions, England had increased 
twelve-fold her daily production of shells. And this was only to 
provide the basis for a new multiplication of output. The Battle of 
the Somme, which started July i, 1916, was fought with an entirely 
unprecedented supply of munitions. Each soldier in the field had to 
be backed up by perhaps four or five workmen in the war industries. 
Germany's monthly war expenditures in 1915 and during the first 
half of 1916 averaged about 2,000,000,000 marks, which was more 
than the total cost to Germany of the war of 1870-71. Within three 
months after the Battle of the Somme, Germany's war expenditures 
had risen to 3,000,000,000 marks a month and in the fall of 1917, they 
exceeded 4,000,000,000 marks. The expenditures incurred by the 
Allies paralleled these figures. Such gigantic concentrations of in- 
dustrial power could not be achieved with peacetime methods of 
private business enterprise. 

The stalemate of military operations had also resulted in corre- 
spondingly greater emphasis on Britain's blockade of the Central 
Powers. Unable to win the war in a short time, Germany and her 
allies were threatened by economic strangulation. More and more, 
England realized this was her sharpest weapon. She steadily tight- 
ened her control over the business of the neutral countries to prevent 
them from supplying Germany with foodstuffs and raw materials. 
Germany, of course, was vitally interested in using every possible 
loophole of the blockade. Economic diplomacy was turned into 
economic warfare and every deal in international trade had to be 
co-ordinated with the requirements of the war economies. Thus, 
another strong tendency towards centraHzed direction of the national 
economies came into play. The methods of warfare in 1916 were 
fundamentally different from those of 19 14; strategy had adopted the 
possibilities offered by industrialized society and the whole economic 
system was commandeered for war service. 

The entrance of the United States into the war permitted the de- 
velopment of war economy into a system of control on a world-wide 
scale. During the period of American neutrality, the federal ad- 
ministration had not dared to make any war preparations lest these 
be interpreted as a move towards involvement in the struggle abroad. 


When the country eventually was drawn in, its government was far 
less prepared in every respect than any of the European belligerents 
had been three years earlier. However, American industry was 
already geared for a large output of war material through supplying 
England and France. More important still, the experience gained in 
this connection and the detached observation of the gradual growth 
of economic regulation in Europe had given a number of clear- 
sighted men in government, science, and industry a better under- 
standing of war economy than most people in Europe had at the 
time. Under the leadership of these men and with the wholehearted 
co-operation of almost the whole nation, the national economy of the 
United States was converted into a war economy more rapidly and 
perhaps more radically than that of any European country. There 
was, of course, much friction and wasted energy, and a fairly satis- 
factory organization was not achieved until a few months before 
the armistice. But incredible results in production were achieved" 
and a great new impulse was given to the Allies. American democ- 
racy made a double contribution to the final victory: the economic 
forces contributed fully as much as the military efforts. 

The Economic Preparedness of i^^g 

Most of the wars between 1918 and 1939 did not require war 
economies, since they were fought by countries that had not yet 
become highly industrialized. The conquest of Ethiopia did not call 
for a strong effort in producing war material on Italy's part. Fascist 
economic policy, moreover, had already introduced a great deal of 
government regulation in peace time. Japan did not expect any 
serious resistance when she undertook military operations on the 
Asiatic continent and she has been reluctant to acknowledge that 
the "Chinese incident" has developed into a full-fledged war. How- 
ever, she could not prevent the gradual transformation of her econ- 
omy into a government-controlled system that appears to be rather 
similar to the war economies as they had developed in 1916-18. 

When Germany chose to risk a war against England and France, 

^ During the last phase of the war, the United States was producing daily 
six times as much smokeless powder as was produced during the whole of 
1914, and more ship tonnage weekly than was formerly turned out in a year. 
See G. B. Clarkson, Industrial America and the World War, pp. 410, 457. 


she was not in doubt as to the economic implications. In fact, 
"Defense Economics" had been made a subject for university courses 
as well as for public discussion soon after Hitler arrived in power. 
Said one authoritative German writer as early as 1934: "The question 
as to whether we today can meet the situation of the World War in 
every respect and what we have to do to make our position as secure 
and strong as possible, especially in the economic field, must not dis- 
appear from our minds for one moment."^ Everybody in Germany 
may not have regarded this as the supreme principle of business, but 
the Nazi government did; and it gradually established its complete 
control over every single detail of economic life. It used this control 
principally to transform the country's business system into a war 
economy. The transformation was carried so far that only a few 
finishing touches, undoubtedly also planned in advance, remained 
to be added when war actually broke out. 

The democratic countries were unable and certainly unwilling to 
establish an entirely government-controlled war economy in peace 
time. However, England and France did not forget the lessons of the 
first World War. The French General Staff is known to have paid 
close attention to the industrial potentiel de guerre and England 
is beUeved to have established a shadow organization some time ago 
in preparation of war economy and economic warfare. Char- 
acteristically, a full-fledged Ministry of Economic Warfare was 
immediately set up when a state of war was declared, and the 
blockade of Germany begun at full steam. An important British 
school of strategy proposes to seek final victory by economic rather 
than military means.^ Both countries had also prepared plans for 
the concentration of their own economic energies on the business 
of warfare. At the very beginning numerous government regulations 
were introduced which had taken several years to evolve during the 
first World War. 

The preparedness and immediate action of the belHgerent govern- 
ments were certainly important factors in the relatively smooth 
transition from peacetime to wartime economy. However, the atti- 

^ K. Hesse, Der Kriegswirtschaftliche Gedanl{e, Hamburg, 1935, p. 6, based 
upon a lecture at his inauguration as Professor of Defense Economics at Berlin 
University in the Spring of 1934. 

* See Liddell Hart, The Defense of Britain, Random House, 1939. 


tude of the international business community was entirely different 
from that of twenty-five years ago when the interruption of normal 
activities caused great disturbance in all markets. Of course, eco- 
nomic nationalism has somewhat reduced the importance of foreign 
trade to the national economies, and the combination of war scares 
and armament booms during the last two years has provoked many 
private war preparations as well. Yet the international security and 
commodity markets during the first few weeks of the War of 1939 
not only failed to be disturbed — but they clearly indicated that most 
businessmen paid much more attention to the probable demand for 
war material than to the threatened decline in peacetime business. 
They expected an immediate repetition of the economic experience 
of only the later phase of the last war. This presumption was un- 
doubtedly more logical than were the expectations prevailing during 
the war scares of the last several years when the sensitive markets 
acted as if a repetition of the economic experiences of 1914 was in 
store. Nevertheless, anticipations of a war economy closely similar 
to that of 1916-18 are likely to be rebutted by the actual develop- 
ments. For two reasons. First, war economy depends on military 
strategy which is likely to develop surprising new features as it 
did in every major war. Second, a war economy planned well in 
advance and made effective at the outbreak of hostilities will prob- 
ably have results different from that of a war economy haphazardly 
improvised during several years of warfare. What these results are 
going to be cannot safely be predicted. There can be no doubt, how- 
ever, that economic factors must play an ever greater role in deter- 
mining defeat or victory in all wars of the twentieth century. 

Financing by Taxation^ LoanSj and Inflation 

Providing the monetary sinews of war was the one economic ele- 
ment of strategy as long as "war economy" in the full sense of the 
word was unknown. Through the advent of the larger task, the 
solution of the financial problem has not become any easier or less 
important. On the contrary. The mobihzation of the entire business 
system increases the necessary amounts in absolute figures and also 
in proportion to the national resources. To express in figures the 
total financial burden of war, has become utterly impossible since 


the effects of hostilities are so widespread that they cannot be sepa- 
rated. All responsible estimates must be confined to those expendi- 
tures which can be directly connected with war, and these estimates, 
therefore, are much too low. Nevertheless, there may be some indica- 
tion in the fact that war expenditures of 1914-18 have been computed 
at more than 200 billion dollars. An adjustment for the inflationary 
increase of the figures during the latter part of the war, would still 
leave a total of more than 150 billion dollars of present value, which 
is equivalent to the total national output of the United States in more 
than two years. In 1918 the United States alone spent more than one- 
quarter of the total national income for war purposes. German war 
expenditures in 1917 are believed to have absorbed about one-half of 
the actual national output and as much as forty percent of the income 
of pre-war years. 

The methods of war financing were always a subject of much 
discussion. Theoretically — and when the war was over — taxation 
was generally regarded as the soundest method, but in practice — 
when the war was on — loans were usually deemed more convenient. 
Moreover, inflation, though never openly advocated, has frequently 
been used as an expedient. England is about the only nation that re- 
peatedly financed a substantial part of war expenditures by taxation. 
During the Napoleonic Wars, almost half of her expenditures were 
covered by revenues and during the first World War, a quarter. 
This latter performance was surpassed by the United States, who 
paid about one-third of the war cost by taxation. However, this was 
possible only because of the unusual prosperity during the preceding 
period of American neutrality and because of the shorter duration 
of this country's active participation. Candor requires us to acknowl- 
edge that war in modern dimensions leaves no choice : every method 
of financing must be used simultaneously. All that can be reasonably 
expected is that they be used in the best possible proportion. To 
determine this, the implications of each form of financing must be 

Can the Burden Be Postponed! 

In every nation the same arguments have been advanced time 
and again in favor of financing a war by loans rather than by taxa- 


don. Ordinary expenditures — so tiie reasoning goes — should be 
financed by taxation, but extraordinary ones by loans; war expendi- 
tures certainly are of an extraordinary nature — why not finance 
them by loans? The enemy will have to make the final payment 
after his defeat just as an adversary may be ordered in court to 
refund legal expenses. The war calls for great exertion in any case — 
why increase the burden by oppressive taxation? The war is fought 
to benefit future generations and it is only just that they should help 
carry the load. After all, financial sacrifices are not as serious as 
those asked from the generation that carries on the war. So far, so 
good. But is it true that loans postpone the burden whereas taxes 
impose it immediately? 

It seems to be true from the point of view of the individual tax- 
payer to whom financing by taxes means the immediate payment of 
the full amount, whereas the debt service resulting from financing 
by loans requires a large number of small payments to be made by 
himself and his children over a long period of years. Yet this is not 
necessarily so. Many a taxpayer can raise a loan for the payment 
of an unusually large tax and distribute his load over a longer 
period of time. Instead of borrowing the money for his tax payment, 
he may liquidate securities or some other assets, thus Ukewise parcel 
out his burden, since his actual sacrifice is represented by the income 
he would otherwise have received from the liquidated assets. On the 
other hand, a loan policy requires a strong appeal to every citizen 
and small subscriptions are accepted, with the result that many of 
them represent a sacrifice of current income rather than an invest- 
ment of capital. There is, of course, a general tendency to use income 
for tax payments and capital for loan subscriptions, but there are 
many exceptions to this rule. 

Moreover, the transfer of money from taxpayers and loan sub- 
scribers to the government's treasury is only one link in the chain 
of war financing. The individual citizen has to raise the money 
under conditions greatly influenced by the economic and financial 
policies connected with the war, and the treasury's disbursement of 
the money again affects the whole business system of the nation. Dis- 
regarding for a moment the monetary element, a different and in 
certain respects more basic view of the burden imposed by war may 


be arrived at. Actually this burden consists of the services and goods 
consumed in carrying on the hostilities and of the loss of comfort 
and wealth that otherwise could have been produced with these 
services and goods. Most of the services must be performed and 
most of the goods must be produced while the war is on. Steel pro- 
duced in the future does not help win the victory. Of course, some 
assistance is given by goods produced in the past: military equip- 
ment and ammunition prepared for the emergency, raw materials, 
manufactured goods, and machinery diverted from peacetime pur- 
poses to war service. Their employment lightens the immediate 
burden, but it constitutes a depletion of reserves rather than a bor- 
rowing from the future. The national economy has to shoulder the 
burden immediately, regardless of the methods of financing. 

What then is postponed by the use of loans instead of taxation? 
Nothing but the allocation of the load to the individual citizens who 
will eventually have to carry it. This is by no means unimportant. 
First of all the postponement is an expedient to the government 
which does not like to inconvenience its citizens by heavy taxation 
while it needs their co-operation. A weak government uncertain of 
its people's morale will do all its war financing by loans, as the 
German government did from 1914 through 1918. Obviously, such 
complete postponement in allocating the burden is a deceit of the 
nation which, as will be shown, has to make its sacrifice in the form 
of inflation; this is less troublesome to the government but more 
onerous to the people. Yet strong and honest governments must also 
finance some part of their war expenditures by loans, since taxes 
big enough to cover all the costs would cause too much friction in 
the business system. It therefore is doubly important to realize that 
loans have a tendency to facilitate inflation. And it should also be 
acknowledged that the delay in allocating the burden actually leads 
to a change in its distribution if the apportionment of taxation to 
the various groups in the population is different after the war from 
that prevailing during the war. 

The Limits of Taxation 

Since taxation is the most honest method of war financing, it 
should be employed in preference to loans. This conclusion would 


be even more stringent if it were possible to levy taxes so as to call 
for an equal sacrifice from every citizen. Two taxpayers having the 
same economic resources, the same income, and the same family to 
care for, will have to pay the same amount of taxes. Yet this amount 
is likely to call for unequal sacrifices if the present equality of their 
economic condition is the result of a considerable improvement in 
the status of one of them and a simultaneous deterioration in the 
status of the other. Should both changes have occurred suddenly and 
as the result of the war, the injustice of the nominally equal taxation 
would be evident. But it would be unavoidable, for taxation must be 
based on objective indications of the ability to pay, making only 
slight adjustments for personal circumstances. Business taxation en- 
counters a similar problem since the elasticity in demand and supply 
is an important factor in determining who actually pays a tax levied 
on business transactions and business profits. A prosperous industry 
whose products are in great demand will have no difficulty in pass- 
ing on the additional burden to its customers, whereas an industry 
suffering from a depression cannot afford further to impair its sales 
by a rise in prices. Here again the war itself magnifies the causes of 
unwanted inequality as it increases the demand for the products of 
certain industries, necessarily at the expense of others. 

Social and economic reasons make it imperative that taxes be lim- 
ited to a level that does not completely destroy those who are hardest 
hit although this limitation will always benefit others who do not 
pay as much as they could. The influence of war on the general level 
of taxation and on the prosperity of the various industries suggests 
special taxes on war profits. During the last war, such special taxes 
were introduced by all major belligerents and also by a number of 
neutral nations. At first glance a war-profits tax seems to be the most 
natural of all taxes, but second thought reveals numerous problems 
only a few of which we shall discuss. The first is the difficulty of 
determining the war profits. One way of doing it is by a special tax 
on profits derived from the production of ammunition and related 
items. But this system disregards many other profits caused by the 
war, and all countries that began with such a special tax, replaced it 
by a wider appHcation based on the increase of either assets or 
income over the pre-war level. This again causes inequitable taxa- 


tion of those whose earning power was improved as a normal result 
of their own previous efforts and investments rather than as a result 
of war. More important still: war-profits taxation discourages the 
investment of capital in war industries inasmuch as such investment 
must depend on the possibility of large depreciation charges and a 
high rate of profit to offset the uncertain duration of the business. 
All these objections were not found strong enough to rule out spe- 
cial war-profits taxes but they influenced their application and limited 
their effect. Experience shows that war-profits taxation is not suffi- 
cient to prevent objectionable profiteering and cannot make a 
decisive contribution to war financing. 

Increases in the various peacetime taxes must be the mainstay of 
war taxation. The possible result thereof is greatly dependent on the 
type of taxes from which the major portion of revenues is derived. 
Th e income tax has proved the mos t flexible instrument of taxation 
in jva r^me. B ritam s income tax — incidentally a child of the Napo- 
leonic Wars — has greatly assisted in financing her wars during the 
nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The United States, after having 
had an income tax during and after the Civil War, luckily reintro- 
duced it shortly before the first World War. Had it not been run- 
ning for a few years before 1917, the nation's comparatively good 
record in war financing would not have been possible. A well estab- 
lished, carefully refined income tax in peacetime is probably the 
best basis for wartime taxation, especially if its rates, though pro- 
gressive, are not too high to prevent a substantial rise in time of 
war. The high level of income taxes in recent years undoubtedly 
impairs the usefulness of this instrument in war financing. In 1939, 
the British income tax rate was raised about as much over the pre- 
war level as during the early phase of the last war; but this pre-war 
level was about as high as the one reached at the end of the first 
World War which represented a fivefold increase over 1914. 

This factor may greatly influence the apportionment of the load 
to the various groups of the population since, next to the income tax, 
the most flexible means of taxation are the excise taxes on consumers' 
goods and general sales taxes. These will have to yield a greater 
share of the total revenue, inasmuch as income taxes are already 
high. Indirect taxes, however, are most burdensome to those who can 


least bear them. On the other hand, reUance on the income tax in 
war time fosters a tendency to increase the relative share of the 
wealthier people by steeper graduation. This at least has always 
been the case in England. Therefore, English economists have 
pointed out that financing of war by loans tends to increase the bur- 
den on the poor, since during war the wealthy pay an unusually 
large proportion of the total taxation. As for the United States, it 
was contended that after 1918 the tax system was no less progressive 
than during the war and that any increase in war taxation could 
have been made only at the expense of the masses.^ Taxation cannot 
be increased beyond certain levels without affecting its apportion- 
ment to the various groups of the population. If the burden on any 
group commanding political influence becomes too heavy, a political 
limit of taxation is reached. 

The Proper Use of Loans 

When we stated above that financing by loans does not postpone 
the burden as far as the national economy is concerned, a reservation 
should have been made with regard to foreign loans. Insofar as a 
country can raise money abroad, it can employ foreign labor and 
foreign goods instead of its own. Loans from an ally tend to be 
considered contributions to the pursuit of the common cause with 
the result that they are not repaid.*" If and when the loan is repaid, 
goods must be produced and sold abroad in order to raise the neces- 
sary cash. Yet at the time the loan is issued, it provides purchasing 
power abroad regardless of later redemption. Thus, foreign loans are 
a means of postponing the burden. Foreign assistance in carrying 
the economic load of the war can also be summoned by the sale 
abroad of any assets for which a buyer can be found. England, for 
example, if she is unable to float a war loan in the United States, may 

^ John M. Clark, The Costs of the World War to the American People, New 
Haven, 1931, p. 76. 

^ This view was expressed long before the start of the general discussion 
about the unpaid war debts. In its first issue of 1919, the London Ecoiiomist 
wrote: "It would be a pleasant act to begin the New Year by making a peace 
bonfire of all the promises to pay that our Allies have given us during the 
war." This influential organ of British public opinion suggested foregoing 
the debts owed to England while advocating the payment of England's own 
indebtedness to the United States. 


secure dollars by selling assets of various kinds to residents of the 
United States. American securities can be sold in this country more 
easily than any other capital assets; but there may also be American 
buyers for Canadian, South American, Japanese, or English securi- 
ties. Of course, the British government does not own such market- 
able assets in peace time but, by persuasion or force of law, its na- 
tionals can be caused to hand them over to the government for sale 
abroad, for which they receive domestic government bonds in pay- 
ment. The immediate effect of such a transaction is similar to that 
of a foreign loan. Buying power becomes available for purchases 
abroad which do not burden the domestic economy during the war. 
Yet a loan is redeemable and assets sold are not. Such sales, therefore, 
may involve the definite surrender of important interests. A clear 
example might be the sale by England of Canadian and Latin- 
American securities to the United States. Preferably, a nation at war 
will sell assets which do not control interests of lasting importance. 
Still, the sale abroad of any asset is a sound means of financing the 
war, and the issue of domestic loans for the satisfaction of the original 
owners does not represent an immediate burden on the national 

For the bulk of its financing, the nation at war has to rely on its 
own resources, A part of the goods and services representing the 
productive power of the country must be diverted from their regular 
employment to war service, and for this purpose purchasing power — 
power to command these resources — must be transferred from indi- 
vidual citizens to the government. If and where the men and ma- 
chines are more or less fully employed, there is no idle capital. Of 
course, individuals may have deposits in the bank, but the bank has 
the money invested. Capital must be released from peacetime employ- 
ment if the government is to get hold of it. To some extent, this 
release is enforced by the war. Shortage of raw materials causes the 
reduction of inventories. The conscription of manpower for war 
service and its attraction by war industry slows down or paralyzes 
less essential activities and their working capital is set free. With the 
metal trades engaged in war work, industrial machinery and equip- 
ment cannot be replaced at the normal rate, and the depreciation 
funds set aside for this purpose become unemployed. These various 


kinds of disengaged capital constitute a fund available for the sub- 
scription of loans. The consumption of this fund in the pursuit of 
the hostilities is a depletion of national resources, a destruction of 
past savings, but it is still a sound method of war financing. 

To the savings of the past, or rather to that part which can be 
mobilized, must be added the savings of the present. In peace time 
the savings of the nation are directly or indirectly invested in the 
expansion of the productive equipment. In war time, these savings 
are drained for war service through the channel of loans. They are 
lured into this channel by an appeal to patriotism and are forced 
into it by an embargo of all other security issues, save those neces- 
sary for the expansion of war industry; and sometimes also by the 
prohibition of all new construction — again excepting that essential 
to the pursuit of war. Moreover, efforts are made to increase the 
current savings. Consumption is discouraged by moral persuasion 
and, more effectively, by the many ways in which it is made im- 
practicable. Lack of personnel and material, difficulty of transporta- 
tion, blackouts, and numerous other inconveniences automatically 
prevent the consumption of many goods and services which other- 
wise would be used. Finally, rationing and other forceful restrictions 
may take place, all of them releasing purchasing power. On the 
other hand, production of goods for warfare, for essential consump- 
tion, and for export as well is speeded up as much as possible, re- 
sulting in the highest national output feasible under the circum- 
stances. The larger the production and the smaller the consumption, 
the greater are the savings which can flow into the war chest. Of 
course, most of the current savings should flow there by way of taxa- 
tion, which incidentafly also serves to discourage consumption. 
Whatever part of current savings cannot be reached by the tax 
collector may properly be mobilized by loans together with the 
disengaged capital resources. Yet as soon as the volume of loans 
increases beyond these savings funds, the gates to the abyss are 
thrown open. 

Loam Degenerate Into Inflation 

Shortly after the entrance of the United States into the first World 
War, A. C. Miller, a member of the Federal Reserve Board, stated 


the case with exemplary clarity: ". . . if the loan policy fails to in- 
duce a commensurate increase in the savings fund of the nation, it 
degenerates, through the abuse of banking credit, into inflation — 
raising prices against the great body of consumers as well as against 
the government, thus needlessly augmenting the public debt, and 
increasing the cost of living just as taxes would. The policy of 
financing war by loans, therefore, will be but a fragile and deceptive 
and costly support unless every dollar attained by the government 
is matched by a dollar of spending power relinquished by the 

There are many ways in which banking credit may be abused to 
create inflation. The most obvious one is through the purchase of 
government paper, be it bills or notes or bonds, by the central bank 
which issues bank notes against it. This is no different from the 
outright printing of fiat money. All other methods are simply a more 
roundabout path to the same goal. More dangerous than any other 
method is the one which appears to be the most innocent : extension 
of credit by commercial banks to private customers with war loan 
used as collateral, the proceeds being employed in the subscription of 
more war loan. And, as long as such credit expansion serves to stimu- 
late loan subscriptions, it does not make any difFerence whether other 
securities are deposited as collateral or the credit is seemingly ex- 
tended to be used in normal business. This procedure was most 
widely appHed in Germany during the first World War because of 
the exclusive use of loans in financing. Thus, the proudly praised 
record of war-loan flotation was easily reached by sheer inflation. 
The methods used for the increase of money and credit are never 
of any importance. Significant only is the fact that credit is extended 
in excess of the savings fund of the nation, that is, of the current 
savings and those capital resources that can be mobilized. 

Here it becomes necessary to amplify a statement made casually 
above. It was stated that there is no idle capital if and when the 
men and machines are more or less fully employed. They, of course, 
are by no means always fully employed and if they are not, there is 

"^Financial Mobilization for War, papers presented at a joint conference of 
the Western Economic Society and the City Club of Chicago, June 21 and 22. 
1917, p. 145. 


what may be termed idle capital. It usually takes the form of an 
abnormally high Hquidity of the banking system. If this is so — at the 
outbreak of war or at any other time — credit may safely be expanded 
until in some important section of the business system production 
reaches the full capacity which cannot be easily increased. With no 
more goods to buy, the purchasing power made available by the 
additional credit is used to bid up the prices of material and labor — 
the vicious cycle is set in motion. Unfortunately, this danger point 
is more easily reached in war time because of the concentration of 
purchasing on a limited number of industries, principally the steel 
and metal industries. 

Wartime inflation is doubly dangerous since it can hardly be 
checked. If a gold currency or a similar monetary system is in opera- 
tion, an inflationary rise of prices which will cause an unfavorable 
development of the balance in foreign trade, will drain the nation's 
reserves of gold and foreign currency, and thus force the central 
bank to protect these reserves by a deflationary counter-move. 
Without such an automatic system (which operates nowhere during 
a major war) a watchful money management may still check an 
inflation; an increase in taxation and a reduction in government 
expenditures will serve to reduce the surplus purchasing power. 
Heavier taxation is entirely possible in war time, but a reduction 
of government expenditures cannot even be considered. Thus, infla- 
tion is allowed to run its course and to accelerate under its own 
momentum — as it invariably does. The upward trend of prices 
creates its own speculative possibilities and therefore encourages the 
use and expansion of credit for more or less speculative purposes. 
This expansion pushes inflation to its vicious stage. 

The use of credit expansion by the government puts at its disposal 
money and credit which are not taken away from the people. If full- 
capacity operations of industry or lack of additional manpower pre- 
cludes an increase in production corresponding to the nominal in- 
crease in available money and credit, the greater sum of money 
cannot buy more — the purchasing power of the monetary unit 
declines. The government's share in the national output does not 
increase as much as it would if its additional income was the result 
of taxation taking it away from the people. But it does increase and 


the people's share does decHne; this is expressed in the smaller 
amount of goods they can buy out of their incomes. Thus, inflation 
is effective as a concealed taxation, but a taxation that does not even 
exempt the poorest and is not graduated in any degree; it is simply 
proportional to the income. 

As if this were not unfair enough, inflation also causes the most 
iniquitous changes in the economic status of the individual citizen. 
The more rigid his nominal income, the more he suffers; the more 
speculative his position, the more is he likely to benefit. Those living 
on pensions or income from fixed interest-bearing investments find 
their purchasing power reduced to the full extent of the decline in 
the value of money. Employees can raise their nominal wages but 
not nearly so fast as the value of the money declines. Businessmen 
depend on their alertness and sometimes on the laxity of their busi- 
ness morale. The debtor who can repay his debt at face value in a 
currency of greatly diminished purchasing power, gains and may 
easily gain a fortune at the expense of his creditors. Many of these 
changes are not only highly inequitable; they are entirely capricious 
and socially destructive. 

All of these dreadful results of inflation are not likely to reach 
their full proportion during a war. They cannot be permited to do 
so because they would greatly hamper the workings of the economic 
system and would utterly destroy the morale of the people. There- 
fore, many restrictions are imposed to prevent or at least to delay 
the rise in prices. For a time, such regulations can be fairly effective 
although they must be steadily extended as the force of inflation 
banished from one field attacks another. Eventually such restrictions 
become so paralyzing that they must be removed after the end of 
hostilities, giving way to the full impact of inflation. The possibility 
of delaying the process is no blessing. Were it not for this possi- 
bility, no government would dare to let inflation run its course. As it 
is, most wars of modern times — and many of earlier centuries — have 
been accompanied by inflation in their later stages when sound 
means of financing were exhausted. Of course, in many instances 
such inflation was comparatively mild, as in the United States and 
Britain during the first World War. It went further in France and 
Italy and much further, of course, in Germany, Austria-Hungary, 


and Russia. This was partly the result of their greater reUance on 
inflation during the war, partly of their inability to stop it after the 
war was over. As Pigou pointed out: "under the Peace Treaty, it 
was politically impossible for any government in Germany to 
maintain itself in power and at the same time to levy, in an uncon- 
cealed form, sufficient taxes or to raise sufficient loans to enable it 
to meet its international obUgations and also to pay its way."^ The 
extreme example of Germany may help in understanding the real 
cause of wartime inflation: the political inability to confine the eco- 
nomic and financial burden to the community within bearable limits. 

Sq^ueeTJng out the War Supplies 

The analysis of war financing should have shown that its methods 
determine the distribution of the war costs rather than their limita- 
tions. The total size of the national economy's assistance to the 
armed forces depends primarily on the adjustment of the industrial 
machinery. This is a task of decisive importance and at the same 
time it presents even greater difficulties than the raising of the 
money. The American experience of 1917 is a clear example. John 
Maurice Clark has pointed out that "it proved easier to expand the 
raising of funds than the effective spending of them. And if it had 
not been for the running start, so to speak, which the period of 
neutrality had afforded, this difficulty would have been many times 
worse."^ The modern business system is based on the principle of 
division of labor, and every industrial unit is dependent on a host 
of others for its machines, tools, dies, fuel, power, raw materials; 
it is dependent on transportation of the goods it receives and those 
it delivers; it is dependent on scientific research and engineering 
skill, on management experience and labor efficiency. Thousands of 
details must be worked out and tested and put into operation if in- 
dustrial production of any small item is to function well. And the 
number of items required is countless. To put industrial economy on 
a war footing is a gigantic task indeed. 

The production of war material is not the only goal that must be 

* A. C. Pigou, The Political Economy of War, London, 1921, p. 162. 
® J. M. Clark, op. cit., p. 32. 


kept in mind. The necessities of the population must also be pro- 
vided and every useless disturbance of the business machinery is an 
unfortunate addition to the great amount of inevitable waste and 
friction which reduces the national output. Such reduction may 
come to as much as a quarter or more. Yet defeat or victory may 
depend on the size of the national output and the share of it that 
can be diverted to war purposes. The decisive effect of America's 
participation in the first World War was largely based on the fact 
that the country succeeded in approximately maintaining its na- 
tional income during 1917-18 at the unusually high level of 1916 
and in shifting one-fourth of it to war use.^*^ On the other hand, 
Austria-Hungary's campaign efforts could only be weak because her 
political and social structure did not permit of any diversion from 
her national income for war purposes; and the contribution of her 
economy was limited to whatever depletion of existing capital was 
possible — a source that was exhausted rapidly as war went on.^-^ It is 
unlikely that much more could have been squeezed out of the frail 
empire by any other method. In a stronger country, however, the 
result may be much more dependent on the system of economic 

The Allocation of Labor 

Manpower is a primary requirement of warfare, and the first effect 
of hostilities is the withdrawal of a large body of men from their 
normal pursuits. As a result, the unemployed will be gradually 
absorbed either in the army or in industry and agriculture. In addi- 
tion, the army of workers is enlarged by women, youngsters, and 
elderly men, who were not employed in peace time. The next step 
is a shift of manpower from the less essential industries, some of 
which are prostrate in any case because of lack of supplies, while 
others must be deliberately curtailed to release employees. Further- 
more, hours of employment are increased although too great an 
increase tends to reduce the speed of work which supposedly is to 
be increased at the same time. The simultaneous application of 

" According to J. M. Clark, op. cit., pp. 122, 123. 

■'^■'- W. Winkler, Die Ein}{ommensverschiebungen in Oesterreich waehrend 
des Welt\rieges, Vienna, 1930, p. 81. 


longer hours and speed-up creates a strain on the workers which 
tends to impair both their wiUingness to co-operate and their health. 
The pressure may be somewhat alleviated as the enormous increase 
in the output of war material permits more extended use of ma- 
chinery and methods of mass production which cannot be applied 
to the small peacetime volume of these industries. 

However, all these expedients cannot solve the problem of allo- 
cating skilled labor. The highly technical character of many types 
of war material makes many trained workers more valuable in the 
factory than in the field. At the beginning of the first World War 
this was acknowledged in the case of only a few; yet as the war 
proceeded greater numbers had to be returned to industry. When the 
United States entered the war, this problem was already recognized 
and a highly selective system of enrolment was applied. Such a sys- 
tem has now become the basis of mobilization plans in all countries. 
New difficulties, however, have developed as war machinery has 
become still more mechanized, requiring a great number of highly 
skilled mechanics as part of the armed forces in actual combat as 
well as on the airdromes and other assembling points behind the 
fighting lines. It is quite possible that the number of skilled workers 
directly and indirectly available to each belligerent party may prove 
to be one of the most decisive determinants of success. Another new 
problem created by the wholesale excuse from military service is its 
effect on the morale of the population. The danger of air attack has 
led to a removal of essential plants from the large cities and industrial 
districts to the less congested rural areas where they are spread as 
thinly as practicable. Able-bodied young men work in the factories 
in the midst of a rural population whose sons and brothers and 
husbands are in the trenches. And the workmen are well paid, too. 
A high degree of understanding is necessary in such a situation lest 
discontent overwhelm the patriotic spirit. 

Within industry a similar inequality arises through the extreme 
differences in business activity. While certain industries are work- 
ing twenty-four hours a day at full capacity, others must close down. 
The shift of workers is comparatively easy in districts where a 
variety of industries is rather evenly distributed. Many districts, 
however, are dominated by only one group of industries with a 


resulting labor shortage in a heavy-industry region and a simul- 
taneous serious lack of employment in, say, a textile district. In this 
connection there is also a capricious change of income; munition 
labor may be very v^^ell paid, while workers remaining in less essen- 
tial peacetime industries are put on part-time at a low wage rate. 
On the other hand, the difference in remuneration is of great help 
in shifting labor to the war industries. The good pay induces many 
workers formerly employed elsewhere to disregard inconveniences 
connected with a change and overcome their natural hesitation. It 
also attracts men and women who were no longer or never before 
active in industry, although other factors may be more effective in 
this respect. As the families of many mobilized soldiers are deprived 
of the major part of their normal income, the women seek indus- 
trial employment, leaving their own previous jobs in the house to 
the youngsters and the elders. Increased cost of living and higher 
taxation play a similar role. Even in the wealthy classes people living 
in leisure feel unhappy in an atmosphere of intensive activity for the 
national cause. 

The democratic nations tend to rely principally on these incentives 
for increasing the supply of labor and for allocating it to the right 
places. Nevertheless, much governmental action is needed to facili- 
tate the process and to reduce friction. The co-operation of labor's 
own organizations is of great assistance and labor leaders, therefore, 
may be called to aid. Government agencies are made responsible for 
the avoidance of strikes and lockouts through mediation. Working 
conditions and rates of pay are to some extent controlled by the gov- 
ernment, be it on the basis of statutory authority or as the direct or 
indirect employer of the largest number of people in the country. 
Employment agencies — if necessary newly created or expanded — arc 
co-ordinated with and directed by the government's central agency 
in charge of industrial production. Transplantation of labor is facili- 
tated by the large-scale construction of housing facilities wherever 
a shortage exists. On the other hand, war work is allocated, if at all 
possible, to districts having a labor surplus. Plants manufacturing 
unessential goods are forced to close if they employ workers who 
can be transferred to a war industry. In individual cases, a specific 
job may be assigned to a potential recruit by the alternative of mill- 


tary conscription. In general, however, direct compulsion was and 
is avoided whenever possible. 

In contrast to the democratic nations, Imperial Germany intro- 
duced general conscription of labor in 1916. During the first two 
years of the war, it had adhered to the same methods as other 
countries, although the military district commanders occasionally 
used their authority in the labor field. However, when the "Hinden- 
burg Plan" was put in operation, the army commanders requested 
and received full control of labor policies through the Kriegsamt 
(War Board) combined with compulsory service for all men be- 
tween the ages of seventeen and sixty. Civil authorities advised 
against this measure but prevailed only to the extent of excluding 
the boys between the ages of fifteen and seventeen and the women 
who, under the original army plan, were also to be subject to service. 
The practical eflfect of the law was a topic of much discussion. Un- 
doubtedly it simplified certain phases in the allocation of labor but 
it probably added httle to the total employment. On the other hand, 
morale and efficiency were unfavorably affected by the workers' 
natural resistance to coercion. The tension resulting therefrom was 
one of the more important elements in bringing about the revolution 
of 1918. 

The Nazi government in peace time administers its labor policy 
by compulsion. Its wartime labor poHcy has proved much more 
radical than the Kaiser's ever was. Long hours of work are com- 
pulsory, the wages, which were low enough before, were reduced, 
and payment for overtime goes directly to the government instead 
of the worker. Yet all this is part and parcel of the Nazi pattern of 
life, imposed upon the people during years of war preparation. 

Conscription of Material and Machinery 

The allocation, in one way or another, of sufficient labor to the 
industrial pursuit of the war does not yet solve the problem. The 
men must have raw material to work on and machinery to work 
with and also fuel and power and all the other incidental necessities 
of industrial production. The small proportion of the industrial 
system that is geared to the manufacturing of war necessities can- 
not possibly be increased sufficiently without a nation-wide adjust- 


merit. During the earlier stages of the first World War, the numer- 
ous ordnance departments of the armed forces in each country tried 
to purchase their requirements in competition with each other and 
with private industry as well. They encountered no particular diffi- 
culties as long as they were buying in moderate quantities and so 
far as they were looking for goods that were manufactured for 
civilian purposes as well as for war. The shoe industry could easily 
supply millions of boots and shoes for the army, since its normal 
sales were reduced by the mobilization. It was more difficult to 
procure enough shells or machine guns because new sources of 
supply had to be added to the old ones. The prospect of profits 
caused many manufacturers to convert their plants, especially those 
whose normal business suffered. But this did not really solve the 
problem since the army contractors could not deliver unless they 
received all the necessary raw materials and subsidiary supplies in 
sufficient quantities and at the right time. There was a shortage of 
some of these raw materials and it was simply a matter of chance 
whether or not a contractor could secure all of them in time. The 
natural accumulation of war business in the highly industriaHzed 
districts overburdened the transportation system, too, and general 
confusion resulted. 

The way out of the confusion was the same in every country: the 
canalizing of government orders through agencies which dealt with 
demands on an individual industry rather than with the require- 
ment of a certain unit of the armed forces. These agencies might be 
committees of the respective industries themselves, as in England, 
or they might be units of some government office, as in Germany. 
In either case, they could not succeed without co-operation between 
government officials and businessmen. This situation was most 
clearly reflected in the American organization as it finally devel- 
oped: consisting of a commodity division or an industry section in 
the War Industries Board, representing the government, and a sepa- 
rate committee of businessmen, representing the industry. However 
it was done, these industry agencies were bound to outgrow their 
original job of assisting in the purchasing by the various ordnance 
departments and procurement offices. Government buying con- 
sumed a large share of the national output, ranging from a quarter 


in the United States to almost a half in Germany and to much 
greater proportions in individual industries. Directing such a large 
share of an industry's production leads necessarily to the direction 
of all of it, especially since the government is also vitally interested 
in the satisfaction of the more important needs of the population. 
And directing the output of an industry tends to involve the respon- 
sibihty for its raw material and labor supply, its wages and prices. 

The principal tool of industrial control likewise was a natural 
outgrowth of the situation, namely the priority system. It started 
with regulations giving precedence to all urgent requirements of 
the armed forces. Soon there were so many urgent orders around 
that it again was a matter of chance whether the most urgent ones 
would be completed in time. A more refined classification became 
necessary. In England, for example, all orders for the armed forces 
were classified "A" but four subdivisions were made, with "Ai" 
being the most urgent war work and "A4" that which was of no 
particular urgency. The classification "B" was accorded to all busi- 
ness that was considered essential for the civilian population and 
everything else was Class "C." Similar systems were introduced in 
other countries including the United States. The belligerents in the 
War of 1939 undoubtedly started right out with a fully developed 
priority system. Nazi Germany already had some semblance of it in 
her government-controlled peacetime economy. Priority, of course, 
not only affects the manufacturing and delivery schedules of the 
orders so designated; it also involves the same classifications for the 
necessary raw material, fuel, and other suppHes, and the transporta- 
tion service as well — all in corresponding proportions. It is apparent 
that the priority system wields great power. Its utilization is almost 
equivalent to the establishment of a central management for the 
nation's industries. 

As a matter of course the canalizing of business and the conver- 
sion of plants to war work is supplemented by efforts to increase 
output, especially of products whose lack tends to create a bottle- 
neck. All possible improvements in the methods of manufacturing 
are employed. Exchange of patents and technical experience among 
the various members of an industry is encouraged and so are other 
methods of co-operation, even in countries where anti-trust laws 


forbid such exchange. Almost every device is welcome provided it 
speeds up production. Yet the one motivating factor that serves this 
purpose in peace time is shunned: the free increase in prices and 
profits. It could not possibly serve its normal purpose of encour- 
aging supply and discouraging demand, since the decisive element 
of demand is the government's almost unlimited and urgent need 
for w^ar material. Prices may be allowed to rise to the point where it 
pays to operate all available capacity — beyond that they cannot en- 
courage production, but they would rise further if unchecked. 

Price control, therefore, is another logical element of war economy. 
Prices may be fixed either at specified maximum amounts for indi- 
vidual goods or in a certain relation to pre-war prices or with a 
certain margin above actual cost. Such regulations tend to be cir- 
cumvented to some extent and they become illusory if the gov- 
ernment's own financial policies foster an inflationary uptrend. 
Then, the regulated prices must follow the rise in costs. Nevertheless, 
price regulation is effective in limiting profits. Private profits are 
permitted within the limits set by the controlled prices and private 
management is allowed to function within the network of the 
government regulations. The meshes of the net may be very narrow, 
as they have been in Nazi Germany even in peace time, or they may 
be wider, as they were in England during the first World War — the 
net result is never very far from what it could be under a formal 
conscription of all industry. 

Curtailment of Consumption 

It may be possible to replace the fighting men by an equal number 
of people not employed before the war, but it must be done by way 
of diluting labor with less capable workers. New methods of pro- 
duction may be used, but they can hardly balance the loss of effi- 
ciency that inevitably results from the many dislocations of produc- 
tion. The total output of the nation is bound to show some decline 
at the very time when the war creates a large-scale demand for 
goods not needed before. Despite all efforts of increasing produc- 
tion, consumption must suffer a considerable reduction. Some cur- 
tailment occurs automatically as numerous opportunities for spend- 


ing disappear. Traveling abroad, for example, becomes impossible; 
cars commandeered for the army can no longer be used for pleasure 
rides; the adjustment of social life to the somber mood of the times 
eliminates many incentives for luxury consumption. A similarly un- 
intentional restriction of consumption results from the decline in 
purchasing power experienced by many families and individuals. 
Mobilization of gainfully employed men is its first source, disloca- 
tion of business its next. Then follows more severe taxation and 
eventually the influence of inflation on prices. The appeal for loan 
subscription may also encourage saving instead of consumption and 
the insecurity of the time is an even more potent warning to put 
aside as much as possible. Among those especially benefited may be 
a number who are not influenced by such warning, but the majority 
of the people tend toward retrenchment. 

Nevertheless, more drastic curtailment is necessary. The priority 
system is a most efficient way to achieve it. As it gives first call on 
the materials and means of production to the armed forces and 
second call to the industries that serve the more urgent needs of the 
population, it diverts them from meeting demands considered less 
urgent from the point of view of the community. Even the satisfac- 
tion of the more urgent needs is impossible in those fields that face 
a greater demand of the preferred classifications than can be satis- 
fied. The control of foreign trade, which we discuss below, works in 
the same way, and numerous consumers' goods disappear from the 
market — a most effective way to curtail consumption. However, 
if the shortage affects vital necessities, the incidence of the retrench- 
ment becomes a social problem. It cannot be left to chance or to the 
competition of purchasing power to decide who is to restrict his 
consumption and to what extent. Here again it is felt that the mecha- 
nism of prices is no longer able to adjust supply and demand and 
must be replaced as it becomes ineffective. It is replaced by the com- 
bination of rationing and price fixing. It may only affect the dis- 
tributors or it may restrict the purchases of the individual con- 
sumers. The widespread German system of issuing rationing cards 
for numerous foodstuffs and textiles was the foremost example of 
the latter method during the first World War. Most heavily hit by 


the isolation from many foreign sources of supply, Germany had to 
restrict the consumer drastically. Social and nervous tension was 
an unavoidable result, but it was greatly aggravated by lack of co- 
operation on the part of the rural population who accorded a self- 
styled priority to their own requirements of agricultural products. 
Perhaps even more disturbing were the government's own inflation- 
ary methods of financing which steadily increased the temptation 
to create illegitimate markets at prices well above those fixed for the 
legitimate trade. Here as in other fields the Nazi government resorts 
to the same economic policies and backs them up by its infinitely 
more effective methods of policing and intimidation. 

Less inconvenient to the people than any other curtailment of 
consumption is the reduction of waste. In Germany it has taken 
the form of collecting all kinds of scrap material and garbage that 
can be used for any purpose, though the cost of collection and con- 
version would be prohibitive under normal conditions. A similar 
effect is attained by refraining, in the first place, from needless use 
of materials. Government regulations to this end have also been 
issued in Germany, but an even more systematic effort in the same 
direction was made in the United States during the last war. The 
Conservation Division of the War Industries Board ingeniously 
worked out an infinite number of savings in materials and services 
and put them into effect through voluntary agreements of the indus- 
tries and trades concerned. Simplifying the form and material of 
packages was one way to this end. The elimination of unnecessary 
patterns and sizes was another. And there were many more ways.^^ 
Only one field was and is in every war virtually immune to all 
efforts of economy: the provisioning of the armed forces. Lack of 
business experience on the part of military agencies is a source of 
much inefficiency; and the civilian organs of government which 
might know better, do not always dare to interfere, though con- 
sumption by the people must be curtailed so much more. Such is 
the nature of war. 

^^ According to G. B. Clarkson, Industrial America in the World War, the 
simplified wrapping of hosiery and underwear saved cartons at the rate of 
141,800,000 annually, wooden boxes at the rate of 500,000, and also 17,312 
freight cars' space. Reducing the varieties of trace chains from 504 to 72 saved 
enough steel to build 80 five-thousand-ton cargo ships (pp. 217, 222), 


The M.anagement of Foreign Trade 

Satisfying both the demands for war supply and the needs of the 
civiUan population is doubly difficult because of the interruptions 
in the normal flow of goods across the border. Immediately upon 
the outbreak of war, commerce with enemy countries stops. This 
usually is of great consequence, for war occurs but rarely between 
countries that have little intercourse. France and England are among 
Germany's best customers and vice versa. Because of the interde- 
pendence of all international commerce, dislocations cannot be 
limited to the trade with the enemy. Belligerents and neutrals suflfer 
alike. Yet to the belligerents this is doubly serious since foreign 
trade represents the only way to increase their striking power with- 
out increasing the immediate burden on the nation. Consequently, 
governments at war make every attempt to utilize fully the re- 
mainder of foreign trade for the national purpose. To gear the 
domestic economy for war and to let foreign commerce escape, 
would not be logical. 

The regulation of foreign commerce starts with the control of the 
purchasing power available for imports: gold reserves, investments 
that can be liquidated, foreign credits, and revenues from exports. 
Withdrawal of gold and foreign exchange is restricted to the funds 
of foreigners or completely prohibited. Liquid means held abroad 
are bought up against domestic currency and, as need arises, na- 
tionals are asked to liquidate investments abroad and to hand over 
the foreign currency to the government. In short, complete exchange 
control is established with the immediate result of splitting the ex- 
change market into an official one at home and a free one abroad. 
This system may be easily abused to conceal the effects of an 
inflationary policy from the nation. In Germany it was forbidden 
during the first World War, and it is now forbidden again even 
to mention a foreign quotation of the mark to anybody excepting 
banks. However, this need not be so, and exchange control 
can also be used simply as a tool to guarantee the concentration 
of foreign purchasing power on the most desirable imports. There- 
fore, a system of import licenses is always connected with exchange 


In the beginning, the regulation of exports may only serve the 
purpose of securing the complete surrender of the foreign exchange 
released. Yet soon the restricted volume of foreign commerce de- 
velops certain characteristics of barter trade. The fact that the foreign 
trade of the countries at war is carried on as a government-controlled 
entity compels those neutral nations who are dependent on com- 
merce with the belligerents to adjust their own economy in a similar 
manner. With their normal supplies impaired by the general dis- 
ruption of trade, they are forced to insist on receiving such goods as 
are most essential to themselves. The belligerents, therefore, cannot 
any longer be content with keeping the total of their exports at the 
highest level their industry can maintain, but they must also make 
sure that these exports are such as to achieve the greatest possible 
barter effect. The entrance of the United States into the first World 
War was of great help to the Allies in this respect. The complete 
control of industry by the War Industries Board made it possible 
to send desirable American products to neutral countries on the 
condition that they would provide the AUies with materials at their 
own disposal, be it nitrates from Chile or mules from Spain. In a 
similar way Germany used her own exports of coal on which 
Switzerland and other countries depended. 

Such barter deals, and with them the whole system of export con- 
trol, became increasingly important as blockade and economic war- 
fare were systematically employed. Regulation of foreign commerce 
continued to aim at supplementing the belligerent's own resources. 
However, at the same time it was skilfully used to prevent the 
strengthening of the enemy. Economic diplomacy was interwoven 
with foreign politics and military strategy. British and American 
success in this field contributed as much to the final decision of the 
World War as any other factor. And Great Britain has not forgot- 
ten the lesson. From the beginning of the War of 1939, she has made 
it her business to combat Germany in the field of foreign trade. She 
bought up supplies on which otherwise Germany might lay her 
hand. She tried to prohibit German exports so as to prevent a 
strengthening of the enemy's purchasing power. And all these ac- 
tivities of economic warfare must be tied in with the control of 
domestic business. War economy is still a means of securing the 


greatest striking power of the army, the navy, and the airforce. But 
it has also become an element of strategy in its own right. 

The Single Purpose Is Supreme 

When a nation is at war, the ordinary needs of the population and 
the tremendously increased demands of its armed forces cannot 
both be satisfied by the peacetime means of production. This is the 
basic economic reason for the establishment of a wartime economy. 
In normal periods, governmental interference with the economy is 
strictly hmited in scope. In keeping with the general character of 
modern society, economic adjustment is left to the free play of a 
system based on private property, individual initiative, and free 
competition. To be sure, this free play is and always has been some- 
what restricted by governmental action as well as by economic in- 
equalities and monopolistic tendencies. Yet a comparison between 
peacetime and wartime economies shows clearly that in time of 
peace the free play of economic forces is the dominant element in 
correlating supply and demand. 

Why must we cease to rely on the mechanism of prices and wages, 
interest rates and taxes, when war grips the nation? Severe taxation 
would serve to restrict consumption, and a competitive rise of prices, 
wages, and government interest-rates would divert the nation's re- 
sources into war work. This, however, would be a slow process and 
its gradual development could not be accurately foreseen. In peace 
time, it is preferable for economic adjustment not to occur pre- 
cipitously; to plan it with exactness would be desirable only if this 
were the most efficient way to provide the greatest satisfaction to 
the largest number of people. Individual needs and desires vary 
widely, and "greatest satisfaction" means very different things to 
different people. Yet, in war time these differences do not count. 
Nor do the advantages of gradual adjustment. The single purpose 
of winning the war is supreme. Speed is of the essence and success- 
ful strategy depends on accurate predictions of economic resources 
available at future dates. Automatic economic adjustment through 
the monetary system would be less injurious to many individuals 
but it could not meet the specific requirements of the rapid and pre- 
dictable concentration of economic resources, which war necessitates. 


The Government Takes Complete Control 

Even when war economy was fully developed during the first 
World War, it was generally not regarded as a system fundamen- 
tally different from the business system of peace time. It was thought 
of as a sum of numerous governmental regulations which merely 
modified the competitive system when and where such modifica- 
tion became unavoidable. But the opposite view is in far closer 
agreement with the facts. In a wartime economy the entire eco- 
nomic system is controlled by the government and remnants of the 
free play of economic forces operate only by suilerance. This drastic 
alteration may find very little expression in legislation, but it is so 
in fact. Legal adjustments usually are confined to general authoriza- 
tions granting power to the executive over wide fields and to specific 
laws regulating details considered most essential. These laws, which 
are few and far between, are used as pillars of a bridge over which 
governmental authority reaches every point it desires to control. The 
material used in building this bridge depends on the political con- 
stitution of the country. In Imperial Germany the military authori- 
ties were above the law when a state of war was declared; they were 
free to direct anything as they pleased and they gave a helping hand 
to civilian agencies whenever this was thought necessary. In Nazi 
Germany the will of the Fiihrer and the party is sovereign even in 
peace time. But in democratic countries, the government can act 
almost as freely since it is assured of the consent of the governed to 
every measure it deems necessary to win the war, and the desire for 
national unity eliminates most criticism and opposition. 

The national spirit of co-operation is the real source of a demo- 
cratic government's wartime power over the country's economy. 
The World War experience of the United States illustrates this most 
clearly. The Chairman of the War Industries Board said to one 
manufacturer literally and to many others in essence: "We know 
perfectly well that the government cannot conduct your mills effi- 
ciently. But by the time we commandeer those mills you will be 
such an object of contempt and scorn in your home town that you 
will not dare to show your face there. If you should, your fellow 
citizens would call you a slacker, the boys would hoot at you, and 


the draft men would likely run you out of town."^^ And if this was 
not enough, the specific powers granted could be stretched to fit 
many situations for which they were never intended, as shown by 
another example. An automobile manufacturer who was requested 
to close his plant in order to save men and materials for more urgent 
purposes, refused to comply because he considered it unjustified. 
But he had no choice when his coal was commandeered.^^ The Gov- 
ernment had no choice either. It had to take control, if it was to 
achieve its goal. 

When it comes to the details of war economy, there are many 
different ends to be attained simultaneously and the achieving of 
one may easily involve the defeat of another. What our previous 
paragraphs have described in general terms is in reality split up into 
a great number of specific tasks and every one of them has to be 
fulfilled by a specific governmental agency. It is impossible for so 
many agencies to avoid colliding with one another. The Dictionary 
of Official War-Time Organizations compiled for Great Britain^^ 
fills more than three hundred pages though the functions of each 
organization are described in but a few lines. Priority and com- 
mandeering, price fixing, and rationing are the instruments of co- 
ordination. At the outset, they may be administered by various 
separate organs of the government but a formal or informal merger 
of these organs must eventually take place. There is no clearer illus- 
tration of such a concentration of power than the letter in which 
President Wilson appointed Bernard M. Baruch Chairman of the 
War Industries Board. The Hst of the Chairman's duties, as enumer- 
ated in this letter,^*' shows that he was to be the supreme authority 
for all economic matters requiring government action. "The War 
Industries Board embraces all and each of the Nation," said the 
Chairman quite truly in an explanation of the Board's functions.-^^ 
Once such an all-embracing concentration of power is achieved, 
war economy is fully established. It was achieved in every major 

^^ Reported by G. B. Clarkson, op. cit., p. 99. 

^^ Published by N. B. Dearie as a volume of the Economic and Social History 
of the World War. 

^^ See American Industry in the War. A Report of the War Industries 
Board. By Bernard M. Baruch, Chairman. Washington, 1921, p. 25. 

^^ Same Report, p. 6. 


country during the first World War. And according to all indica- 
tions, the belligerents in the War of 1939 established it right from 
the beginning. The governments are in control of every economic 
activity in their respective nations, though the manner in which this 
system operates naturally depends upon the nation's political sys- 
tem. The exercise of economic control may be dominated by or 
co-ordinated with the military command. It can never remain inde- 
pendent of it. \/ 

Economy and Strategy 

In Imperial Germanji the military high command was in com- 
plete control from the ipoment war economy reached its full devel- 
opment in the latter part of 1916. The Fiihrer of Nazi Germany has 
formally delegated his power to Marshal Goring, who supposedly 
combines in his person the representation of the army and the all- 
powerful party. In the democratic countries, the army command is 
responsible to the government and co-ordinated in this way with the 
agencies controlling economic activities. Yet, in either system, mili- 
tary strategists must regard economic factors as part of their plans. 
The functioning of the economy determines the very first strategic 
decision, namely the size of the army to be put into the field. Tsarist 
Russia's breakdown was imminent the moment the personnel of 
her poorly developed industrial and transportation system fell below 
the indispensable minimum; the largest army ever assembled be- 
came powerless when the home organization was paralyzed. The 
right proportion of soldiers to workmen must be carefully ascer- 
tained and adhered to, and it is not the same for every country. 
Occasionally published figures cannot be taken at face value since 
their real meaning depends on exact definitions^^ which frequently 
are not given. Yet certain tendencies are obvious. A country that 
can import freely will require a smaller proportion of its manpower 
at home, whereas a country forced to be self-sufficient because of a 
blockade will have less manpower available for the army. A corre- 
spondent of the New Yor\ Times reported from Paris on October 

^^ The term "soldiers" sometimes refers to all men mobilized and at other 
times only to those actually engaged in combat; "Workmen" may include 
either those producing army supplies only or all who are necessary to keep 
the economic system going. 


15, 1939, that according to estimates of French technicians "the 
needs of each German combatant calls for the employment of ten 
to twelve men in the rear, compared with the Allies' five to seven 
men." The exact meaning of these figures is not clear and their rela- 
tive proportion may or may not be correct, but there is no doubt that 
Germany's figure must be substantially above that of the Allies. 

The dependence of warfare on industrial production renders 
doubly significant every move that strikes at the enemy's economic 
system. Aerial attack may possibly prove to have its strongest eflect 
through its paralyzing influence on the enemy's industry and trans- 
portation. Changes in a front line may also have the greatest impor- 
tance because of economic consequences. The French advance into 
German territory at the beginning of the War of 1939 forced the 
shut-down of the mines and steel mills in the German Saar district 
and simultaneously protected the similar plants in French Lorraine. 
The conquest of Poland incidentally added substantially to Ger- 
many's industrial plant and gave her many additional workmen — 
both plant and men to be vigorously exploited. Such exploitation 
of an invaded land may be precluded if there is time for demolish- 
ing industrial faciHties. Germany's occupation of Rumania during 
the first World War fell short of achieving its goal because it was 
delayed long enough to permit the Rumanians to destroy the oil 
wells. On the other hand, German army engineers won a battle by 
reorganizing the Hungarian railroads so that a large quantity of 
grain could be imported from Rumania during the last few months 
of her neutrality. 

Timing is the one element of strategy which exercises the greatest 
influence on the combined efficiency of the army and the economy. 
No military action can be successfully undertaken unless industry 
has produced in advance an ample supply of equipment and am- 
munition. The long period of relative quiet in the War of 1939 may 
be in part explained by the necessity of preparing unprecedented 
quantities of supplies. On the other hand, economic factors may 
compel Germany to act. Her economic strength is likely to reach its 
maximum at an early date since she will have difficulty in replacing 
the raw materials and foodstuffs which are being consumed despite 


the most severe restrictions.^® At the same time, her opponents have 
a long way to go before they reach their maximum economic vigor 
unless she succeeds in breaking Britain's rule of the seas. Whoever 
wins this war will owe his victory to his more efficient combination 
of both war economy and military strategy. 

The Kole of Preparedness 

The War of 1939 is the first war for which economic precautions 
were taken on a large scale. Plans were made by all governments 
for the organization of war economy in general. Even the United 
States took preparatory steps in recent years. However, the Euro- 
pean governments went much further. Their priority systems were 
ready to be introduced; the groundwork was laid for the regulation 
of their international commerce and foreign exchange; price control 
and rationing were prepared insofar as they were deemed necessary. 
Most countries which could afford it also assembled in 1938 and 
1939 considerable stocks of raw materials and foodstuffs either di- 
rectly for the account of the government or, upon government sug- 
gestion, for private account. Special attention was given to the 
so-called "strategic" raw materials, that is, those whose lack might 
easily create a bottleneck in the production of war supplies. 

More important still was the industrial preparation, which was 
only in part incidental to the armament race of recent years. Matters 
were so arranged that the billions provided for the purchase of army 
supplies served simultaneously the purpose of preparing a large ca- 
pacity of armament manufacture. Orders were no longer concen- 
trated on a comparatively small number of factories, as was the case 
before 1914. They were spread thinly throughout a country's in- 
dustry so as to educate the largest possible number of manufacturers 
in wartime production. Such "educational orders" were also made 
contingent on the outfitting of the plant with the necessary dies, 
tools and machines, as well as the proper maintenance of this ma- 
chinery. As a result there was great activity in the machine-tool 
industry and related lines which likewise became acquainted with 
the products required of them in war time. The aircraft industry 
was stimulated to a still greater extent and far beyond the speed of 

^® For details see Fortune, issue of December, 1939. 


its natural growth. Finally, a great number of manufacturing plants 
in many industries were investigated in order to ascertain how they 
could best be converted for wartime production. 

All these and numerous other details of preparation were inte- 
grated in each major country into a complete blueprint of war econ- 
omy. The general outline of one of these blueprints has been 
published, namely the Industrial Mobilization Plan of the United 
States. Based on a complete understanding of the mutual inter- 
dependence of all economic functions in war time, it provides for 
one major agency to co-ordinate these functions. War economy 
under this plan would parallel to some extent the final organization 
of 1918; but it would be even more comprehensive, more logically set 
up and, above all, immediately efifective. In fact, the 1939 revision 
of the plan makes it fairly clear that in peace time the Army and 
Navy Munitions Board represents a skeleton of the War Resources 
Administration. The corresponding organizations in England and 
France began to function the instant the War of 1939 broke out. 
Less than three months later, they were so fully developed that it 
was possible to merge their activities into one Allied Supreme Eco- 
nomic Council. During the first World War three years elapsed 
before a less complete co-ordination was achieved. 

For some time already, such developments could be observed in 
Nazi Germany, whose whole economy was actually converted into 
a war economy in every respect. For several years all of her economic 
policies served no other purpose.^*^ The Nazi government forced its 
people in peace time to make all those efforts and sacrifices previ- 
ously required only during the World War. Not satisfied with pre- 
paring for the production of war supplies, the Nazis developed a 
domestic production of substitutes for a number of raw materials 
which might be shut out by a blockade. There can be no doubt that 
this unprecedented policy has strengthened Germany's position in 
several respects. Yet in others, German's economy has been weak- 
ened by the same process. The depletion of national resources, 
which we described earlier as an element of war economy, occurred 
to a large extent even before the war started. The country's reserves 
are smaller now by that much. It is likely that the policy of pre- 

^° See Fortune, October, 1939. 


paredness has increased Germany's ability to win a short war but 
has reduced her capacity for withstanding a long one. 

Even more important: such an extreme state o£ economic pre- 
paredness created a strong tendency to precipitate war. Many of the 
disruptions and dislocations that normally must be expected at the 
outbreak of hostilities had already occurred in peace time, and 
the economy was somewhat adjusted with the result that the inhi- 
bitions against going to war were greatly lessened. Simultaneously 
the free play of the economic forces was restricted to such an extent 
that readjustment of the economy to peacetime purposes was almost 
as difficult before the war as it normally would be after a war. 

It has been said that every armament race tends to lead to war. 
The steady accumulation of arms cannot be continued indefinitely 
and there might easily be an inclination to use them rather than lose 
the money invested. However, the totalitarian form of economic 
preparedness presents even graver features. It develops entire in- 
dustries which could not exist under a competitive system; it de- 
prives other industries of a secure foundation and in addition makes 
them dependent on the so-called "defense economy." Consequently 
the discontinuation of such an economic system of preparedness for 
war would not only result in the waste of large expenditures. The 
readjustment would also create an economic crisis of unpredictable 
proportions. A government responsible for such a dangerous policy 
might not be able to survive the crisis and might easily prefer a war 
— for a war would be the best possible justification of the burden it 
imposed upon the people. 

Shadows over the Future 

When war comes to an end, the troops are demobilized and so is 
the war economy. Yet demobilization of both army and industry is 
not an easy task. The men cannot be released all at once, but within 
a few weeks millions do come home and more millions within a 
few months. Some of them will have no difficulty in returning to 
their peacetime occupations but many will. Industry geared for the 
largest possible production of war materials suddenly stands still. 
The government must take delivery on some contracts although it 
has no use for the material, and it must make compensation for the 


cancellation of other orders. But this does not bring new sales, and 
a wave o£ unemployment sweeps the country. Part of the large per- 
sonnel that was engaged in the direction of war economy is diverted 
to handle the newly arisen difficulties. Employment-agency services 
are directed to smoothing the path for those returning from the 
trenches. And some of the means already set aside for the continua- 
tion of hostilities can be used for government peacetime works that 
were neglected during the war. Gradually the deferred demand of 
private consumers also exercises its influence. All over the world the 
wheels of industry begin to turn again. Once started they will soon 
speed up. The inflationary addition to purchasing power is still 
present and the gates of rationing and priority, which kept it away 
from the market, are gradually opened. Reconstruction of destroyed 
areas also gets under way. The post-war boom is initiated. 

In some countries this boom collapses after a while when inflation 
is checked. In the less fortunate nations inflation gathers momentum 
and it takes a number of years before they can return through a 
deflationary crisis to a status approaching normal. These less fortu- 
nate peoples are the vanquished, who naturally have to bear a dis- 
proportionately large share of the cost of reconstruction. Yet what- 
ever form tributes may take, they cannot ever be large enough to 
cover all those costs that continue to accumulate after the end of 
hostilities. Demobilization, compensation for damages, reconstruc- 
tion, and pensions pile up to huge amounts. If the beaten nations 
should bear all these costs, they would have to export a correspond- 
ing amount of goods to the victor countries; but these countries are 
not willing to take imports on such a scale. War-cost distribution 
can end only in a compromise and it ends better the sooner a realistic 
compromise is made. 

The system of government-controlled war economy hardly dis- 
appears without a trace. In fact, it is hkely to find advocates of its 
continuation in a form adjusted to peacetime purposes. Some of 
the men who participate in the direction of war economy become 
fascinated by its attractive features. Things can be accomplished so 
much more effectively and more quickly; efforts can be directed 
towards the essentials and silly waste can be prohibited. Why should 
not these methods be put to service for the more noble purposes of 


social reform and economic progress ? Walter Rathenau, who was a 
social philosopher rather than a hardboiled business man, was 
moved by his wartime experience to become an apostle of "planned 
economy." Similar views were discussed among the men in the eco- 
nomic war organizations of Great Britain and the United States.^^ 
From their seats of power they saw the achievements of war econ- 
omy and hoped these could be separated from its shortcomings. 
But the system is an entity and its principal dangers cannot be 
avoided without sacrificing its advantages. Judging by actual re- 
sults, it did not deserve to be perpetuated.^^ The people as a whole 
did not look favorably upon an economy that demanded sacrifices 
in terms of freedom and comfort. They were willing to bear such 
sacrifices as long as the nation was bent on winning the war, but 
they saw no incentive for continuing them in peace time. War econ- 
omy is the suitable system when the single purpose is supreme; but 
it is scarcely fit for the manifold aims of peace time. 

To be sure, there are numerous hangovers of wartime economy. 
The most significant change from pre-war times was represented by 
the restrictions of international trade and foreign exchange, neither 
of which ever quite disappeared. Yet this was not attributable to 
the wartime economy per se. It was the result of the economic na- 
tionalism that had been intensified and spread all over by the mad- 
ness of the war and the economically irrational peace treaties. War- 
time economic organization, however, survived in the form of a 
number of governmental regulations which were considered bene- 
ficial in specific fields of domestic economy. Co-operation within the 
industries also was greatly stimulated by the war experience and 
many business associations were continued for purposes both noble 
and ignoble.^^ 

However, there is reason to assume that the remnants of war 
economy which were preserved owed their success only pardy to the 

2^ See E. M. H. Lloyd, op. cit., and G. B. Clarkson, op. cit. 

^^ John Maurice Clark summarized his judgment in The Costs of the World 
War to the American People, p. 44, as follows: "The disappointing out- 
come ... is in part, no doubt, to be written down as an instance of ineffi- 
ciency on the part of popular government in meeting an emergency of this 

^^ Price fixing and stifling of competition were among the ignoble purposes; 
collection and publication of many useful statistics among the nobler ones. 


war; they represented a selection that conformed to the general 
trend of economic organization in peace time. In any case, these 
remnants were only a small part of the octopus that disappeared 
with its raison d'etre. It returned gradually only as the danger of 
war became acute once more. And it will be here again and again 
until the war will be won that actually ends war as an instrument of 
national policy. 

Suggested Readings 

A brief essay cannot attempt to do more than provide a general 
understanding of and introduction to the manifold facts and prob- 
lems of wartime economy. Though no single comprehensive and 
up-to-date work on the subject has (to the writer's knowledge) as 
yet been published, a number of treatises and a considerable mass 
of source material are available. Some of the more interesting books 
in the field are the following: 

Industrial Mobilization Plan, Revision of igS9> United States Govern- 
ment Printing Office, Washington, D. C, 1939. This short official 
document gives a clear insight into both the scope of war prepara- 
tions in a contemporary nation and the all-embracing character which 
war economy would have if the United States should become in- 
volved in a major war. 

Pigou, Arthur Cecil, The Political Economy of War, London, 1921. Al- 
though largely based upon the experience of 1914-18 and in some 
chapters confined to specifically British problems, this still seems to 
be the most searching analysis of the fundamentals. 

Einzig, Paul, Economic Problems of the Next War, London, 1939. Not 
nearly so thorough as the Pigou volume, and deliberately confined to 
the British point of view, but up-to-date and easily understood and a 
rather complete enumeration of all war economic problems. 

Clark, J. Maurice, Hamilton, Walton H., and Moulton, Harold G., eds.. 
Readings in the Economics of War, University of Chicago Press, 
191 8. An extensive collection of pertinent discussions on all aspects 
of war economics. Though intended to clarify the tasks of the United 
States in the first World War, it is still a very good introduction to 
the whole subject. 

Speier, Hans, and Kahler, Alfred, War in Our Time, Norton, 1939. A 
collection of essays on war from numerous aspects, including thor- 
ough discussions of economic phases on an up-to-date basis. 

Proceedings of the Academy of Political Science: issue containing the 


papers presented at the Annual Meeting, November 15, 1939. Par- 
ticularly valuable are the contributions by Robert Warren and Lionel 
D. Edie. 

*Clark, J. Maurice, The Costs of the World War to the American People, 
Yale University Press, 193 1. A review^ of the economic consequences 
of the war for the United States, throwing light on many funda- 
mental problems and analyzing a considerable number of facts. 

*Gide, Charles, and Oualid, W., Le Bilan de la guerre pour la Trance, 
Paris, 1 93 1. Similar in intention to the previous volume though 
different in method and material, and therefore a valuable supple- 
ment to it. 

*Winkler, Wilhelm, Die Ein^ommensverschiebungen in Osterreich 
wdhrend des Welt\rieges, Vienna, 1930. An interesting survey of 
the economic result of the 1914-1918 conflict, far more comprehensive 
than its title indicates. 

Bogart, Ernest Ludlow, War Costs and Their Finance, Appleton, 1921. 
A comprehensive survey of the financial aspects of all countries 
participating in the World War. 

Clarkson, Grosvenor B., Industrial America in the World War, Hough- 
ton MifHin, 1923. 

*Beveridge, Sir William, British Food Control, Oxford, 1928. 

*Lloyd, E. M. H., Experiments in State Control at the War Office and 
the Ministry of Food, Oxford, 1924. The last three volumes analyze 
and illustrate the organization of war economy and include impor- 
tant historical material. 

* The volumes preceded by an asterisk are part of the Economic and Social 
History of the World War, edited by James T. Shotwell, and published for 
the Carnegie Endowment by the Yale University Press and for various Euro- 
pean publishers for whom the same press is the American distributor. This 
collection, which includes almost 150 monographs from 21 countries, is the 
richest source of factual material. 



WAR TIME Lerner 

War is the health of the state." This sentence occurs again and 
again in Randolph Bourne's briUiant Unfinished Fragment 
on the State, one of the essays in his Untimely Papers} He used it, of 
course, with ironic intent. He was seeking a phrase that would ex- 
press the brutal energies released by war and at the same time pillory 
the fetishism of force among the absolutist believers in state power. 
From such a standpoint Bourne was obviously right. Once you 
assume that force is the meaning and essence of the state, then war 
becomes the health of the state: for it is in war time that the elements 
which threaten the position of the governing group can be best 
suppressed by resort to force in the name of national cohesiveness 
and patriotic fervor. 

Bourne was one of our great democratic thinkers. So too was Walt 
Whitman. Yet the latter spoke of "sweet wars, life-giving wars." 
"Beautiful that war," he wrote afterward of the Civil War, "and 
all its deeds of carnage must in time be utterly lost." And Lewis 
Mumford, whose democratic integrity is equally unquestionable, has 
in Men Must Act^ echoed and reaffirmed Whitman's temper and ap- 
phed it to whatever wars may have to be waged against that bar- 
barism of the human spirit that we call Fascism. 

^ Huebsch, 1919. 
^Harcourt Brace, 1939. 



Thus on the one hand, Bourne and the association o£ war with 
absolute state power. And on the other, Whitman and Mumford, 
asserting humanist values by which they wish war and the power of 
the state to be judged. If Bourne is right, in his implications as well 
as his statement, war inevitably leads to the brutalization of the 
individual by the state. If Whitman and Mumford are right, the 
state in war time takes its character from the ends for which and 
the ways in which the war is fought. 

It is an old and ever new antithesis, and we shall probably never 
resolve it. Americans are faced with it today in confronting the 
problem of involvement in war; and if we should enter the present 
struggle we should have to face even more sharply the problem of 
government power in war time. For that reason Bourne's essays are 
as contemporary as they were when they were written in 1917. And 
for that reason too a re-examination of the state structure and func- 
tioning during the Civil War under Lincoln and the World War 
under Wilson has become of considerable moment for the future. 
Both Presidents were genuine democrats and both were sensitive to 
the dangers of excessive state power and popular hysteria in war 
time. The night before Wilson read his war message to the Ameri- 
can Congress, he made a gloomy prediction to the editor of the New 
York World that he was unleashing forces he would not be able to 
control. And Lincoln stated as well as anyone the dilemma that the 
democratic state faces, whether with regard to war or any other 
crisis of power. "Must a government of necessity," he asks, "be too 
strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain 
its own existence?" The answer as Lincoln gave it not only ex- 
pressly but also, by implication, in his conduct of the war is the 
answer that most of us would give today : that the very meaning of 
democracy lies in the attempt to create and maintain a collective 
strength by a mechanism that still provides for individual liberty — 
not because we make a fetish of individual liberty even when it 
defeats the majority will, but because only through individual liberty 
can one majority be replaced by another majority. But it is an an- 
swer that is easy enough to formulate but hard to apply. The world 
has not yet learned to spell it out concretely, and it will cost blood 
and agony of spirit before it is eventually spelled out. 


One thing we know: that in a war all problems of state power 
and human values become accentuated. In war time state power is 
maximized, whatever the form of the state; in war time civil liberties 
are at a straining point; in war time those in positions of control 
show an impatience with democratic methods as being cumbersome 
and inefficient; in war time critical opposition to the ruling group 
is a dangerous luxury; in war time the veneer of the superego 
which separates the political animal from his deepest instinctual 
life comes closest to being scratched away. And whatever obstruc- 
tions in the path of cultural advance some wars may help to remove, 
the process of political and psychic recovery is always a desperate 
one, whatever the war. 

Nor is it possible any longer wholly to escape the heavy hand of 
war on a state and a culture merely by keeping them out of involve- 
ment in it. The western state system that we live in is as surely a 
war system as it is economically a capitalist system and politically 
a system of organized force. And war reaches to the fibre of it. For 
years the approach of the second World War forced Germany, Eng- 
land, France, Russia, and to an extent even America to a brink-of- 
war economy that contained no elements of social health. As I 
write^ Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Finland are not yet 
participants in the war: yet the fact of war around them has com- 
pelled them to mobilize their entire economic and cultural resources 
and the whole structure of their state power on a war basis. This is 
true to a disconcerting extent even of the United States, separated 
though it is from the war by an ocean. The government departments 
and commissions have been placed on what amounts to a war foot- 
ing; M-Day plans have been made; a new War Resources Board 
has been created, dissolved, and as I write there is talk of its being 
invoked again; the State and the War and Navy Departments domi- 
nate the governmental scene. The question that every administrator 
must put to himself is: "Are we ready to do what we would have 
to do if and when we enter the war?" George Russell ("A.E.") 

^ Because this essay deals with the changes in political mechanisms pro- 
duced by war, I shall have to make a number of references to contemporary 
events and situations. The reader will of course understand that those events 
will change as the war proceeds. But I felt that the analysis would lose enor- 
mously in value by omitting such references. 


remarked somewhere, "We become what we contemplate." In a 
world at war, preparedness is a necessity; but it is also true that 
a nation that prepares thus generally gets, at least in psychological 
terms, what it is preparing for. In short, while the distance between 
a state at war and a state in a world at war is still significant, it is a 

diminishing one. 


War IAaximi%es State Power 

War maximizes state power. The Romans recognized this, and 
provided for a constitutional dictatorship in wars and other crises, 
whereby the consuls yielded their power and entrusted the entire 
safety of the state to a dictator, who was to see to it "that no harm 
came to the state." Machiavelli, in his Discourses, has a brilliant de- 
fense of this : if a republic, he argues, does not provide legal machin- 
ery for a dictatorship in time of crisis, then the crisis will compel it 
to adopt a dictatorship under illegal forms. One might reply that 
the idea of constitutionalism and the idea of absolute power are 
scarcely compatible. However that may be, the precedent of the 
Roman Republic is anything but consolatory, given the history of the 
Roman Empire that followed it. 

The French government today is virtually a constitutional dicta- 
torship in the Roman sense. In effect what has happened is that the 
Prime Minister, having first obtained the consent of the Chamber 
of Deputies to do so, is ruling without the Chamber of Deputies, It 
may be said, in defense, that the change of democratic state forms in 
the direction of such a decrease of parliamentary safeguards is proof 
of a saving flexibility in the democratic state. Certainly Germany 
even before the outbreak of the War of 1939 had so completely be- 
come a totalitarian state that there was little room for a further 
extension of state power. All that Hitler could do, when he took the 
final plunge of the invasion of Poland, was to broaden the definition 
of treason, increase the number of acts coming within it, place the 
people on a rationing system of foodstuffs and basic war supplies 
with severe penalties for infraction, and set the Gestapo to work 
harder than ever. Nevertheless, whatever may be said of democratic 
flexibility, the example of France indicates how far a democracy 


may be compelled by the necessities of war and of internal strain to 
obliterate its parliamentary character. 

The trend in war time is generally away from legislative and 
toward executive power. This is true even when, as in the American 
Civil War, the legislature continues actively in session and the sys- 
tem of periodic elections is maintained. Carl Sandburg's monumental 
Lincoln: the War Years'^ gives abundant proof of Congressional 
speech and activity highly embarrassing to the President; and the 
election campaign of 1864 almost ousted him from office. Yet there 
can be little doubt that the executive power in Lincoln's administra- 
tion was dominant as never before in American history; and the 
process was repeated under Wilson. Not only is the executive as war 
leader compelled to assume both civil and military functions : but so 
closely is the successful prosecution of the war bound up with every 
phase of the community's life, that an important war decision is 
bound to ramify through the whole economic and political structure. 
Lincoln proclaimed the emancipation of the slaves as a war measure, 
but its effects both for the North and South were significantly 

The emphasis on the executive and the retreat from the parlia- 
mentary principle are not difficult to account for. Government by 
discussion is generally regarded as a peacetime luxury, even in a 
democracy. In war time the urge is toward quick and secret deci- 
sions and immediate action. Under modern conditions especially, 
war is an exercise in a planned society, and what is needed is, on 
the one hand, expertise^ and, on the other hand, the articulation of 
parts in the governmental machine. Moreover, no government today 
wishes either to stand the barrage of parliamentary criticism, or to 
reveal its plans and its casualties by submitting them in open par- 
liamentary session. Finally, when half the world operates under an 
authoritarian "leadership principle" of one sort or another, the other 
half is never so likely to feel itself at a disadvantage on this score as 
in war time. And while both the people and the leaders in a democ- 
racy are likely in their conscious minds to resist the acceptance of 
the principle of one-man rule, many of them have deep inner reser- 

* Four volumes, Harcourt Brace, 1939. 

^ The English language lacks a good word which will express, as this French 
word does, a body of trained administrative knowledge and expertness. 


vations; and the war emergency gives them the chance to elude the 
censor of their conscious selves by stressing the need for extraordi- 
nary executive power in war time. 

War also adds increased burdens and powers to the administrative 
structure of the state. During the World War many of the govern- 
ments, including the American, were forced by the military emer- 
gency to increase their control over economic life. In that sense, the 
World War must count as a landmark in the twentieth century's 
march toward increased collectivism. It is the recognition of this 
fact by the owning classes throughout the world that accounts to an 
extent for their diminished enthusiasm about the War of 1939. They 
have come to understand that no matter for what and by whom a 
war is fought, it involves economic co-ordination, a system of priori- 
ties, heavy taxation, a large measure of destruction of wealth through 
military action and confiscation through governmental. So far as 
concerns the administrative, an ad hoc board^ or commission was 
generally resorted to in America during the first World War when- 
ever a specific task of co-ordination — such as the work of the War 
Labor Policies Board or the War Resources Board — had to be under- 
taken. And here again, ad hoc war administrative structures have 
often proved a stimulus and a precedent for similar peacetime exten- 
sions of governmental control. 

But if war procedures tend to carry over into the peace, the same 
is not true generally of peace procedures carrying over into a war 
period. When the United States entered the World War in 1917, 
for example, many of the governmental agencies developed under 
Wilson's first term virtually suspended operations, and their func- 
tions were taken over by ad hoc war agencies. This is one of the 
reasons, although not the principal one, why war generally puts an 
end to any period of social reform. To an extent, of course, much 
depends upon how stable the agencies have become before the war 
breaks out. In the early months of the War of 1939 some hope was 
expressed in Washington's government circles that in the event of 
American war participation the regular New Deal agencies such as 
the Securities Exchange Commission, the National Labor Relations 

^This term is generally used to indicate governmental boards and agencies 
for a specific purpose and a limited time, as distinguished from agencies of a 
more general character and of greater permanence. 


Board, and others would continue to operate, with the adjustments 
necessary for their war functions. It must be remembered, in con- 
sidering any parallel with the Wilson administration, that the Presi- 
dent had been in office for less than a year and a half when the 
European War broke out and had scarcely had a chance to launch 
his domestic program along with its administrative procedures; 
whereas the New Deal had had almost two terms before the War 
of 1939 broke out. 

Even more important, however, than the question of whether 
peacetime agencies and procedures survive entrance into a war is the 
question of the character of the bureaucracy. It is a truism that with 
a war the militarist mind comes into power, both in the field and 
behind the lines in the civil occupations. The reasons advanced are 
usually the need for special expertise and for cutting bureaucratic 
red tape; and yet too often the military mind represents only a par- 
ticular variety of the bureaucratic. But perhaps the greatest casualties 
in this area come not so much from the displacement of officials as 
from the change that war brings in their temper. The greatest as- 
surance against a breakdown of the democratic fabric in war time 
is the existence during peace periods of a bureaucracy firmly condi- 
tioned to democratic habits of mind. 

The problem of government personnel, difficult enough in peace 
time, is doubly difficult during war. Efficiency becomes god, and all 
other considerations are scrapped in its name. Yet this is often only 
another way of saying that decisions are made upon insufficient re- 
flection and without an adequate pooling of the available intellectual 
resources. In the attempt to avoid the blight of the routineering 
mind of the peacetime government official, war governments often 
fall a prey to another species, the wartime routineering mind. 
Graham Wallas, in his suggestive book Our Social Heritage^ has 
some provocative comments drawn from British experience during 
the first World War, on the lack of genuine creative thinking in 
most war administrations. And Mr. Ivor Jennings, in his brilliant 
treatise on Cabinet Government, has given us some insights into the 
workings of the British War Cabinets, offering considerable evi- 
dence that no opportunity is provided for the sort of thinking that 

^ Yale University Press, 192 1. 


emerges from the meeting and resolution of conflicting points of 

Much depends, of course, on the inner social structure of the 
state. The Napoleonic regime, born of a revolution and dedicated to 
the "career open to talents," was able to achieve an effectiveness of 
personnel not possessed by the older regimes with more deeply 
entrenched elites. It will, in general, prove true that a firmly estab- 
lished class structure in a state, especially an ancien regime class 
structure such as the Russian and Austrian empires had during the 
first World War, places a heavy disability on the war administra- 
tion. Even the vaunted efficiency of the German military machine 
during the first World War proves in historical perspective to have 
been vitiated by the arrogance and inflexibility of the Prussian 
Junker and military classes, which often served as a cloak for the 
grossest inefficiencies. It is still too early to judge of the conduct of 
the war by the present German Government; yet following the 
Paretian^ theory of the "circulation of the elites" as a result of revo- 
lutionary overturn, one may hazard the guess that the Nazi gov- 
erning group -is likely to prove more mobile both in its military and 
diplomatic maneuvers. The point is borne out even more strongly 
by a comparison between the Tsarist Government in the World 
War and the Soviet Government in the War of 1939 : there is a vigor 
• and daring in the latter that were fatally absent in the former. 

The case of Great Britain is in this respect an interesting one. The 
British governing group is one of the most deeply entrenched in 
Western history. In the diplomatic area it has during the past decade 
been characterized by a peculiar form of sophistication rather than 
by daring and imaginativeness. Again, in Pareto's terminology, its 
vigor has been that of the foxes rather than of the lions. There has 
been considerable criticism in England of some of the current ap- 
pointments to strategic posts in the war government. An editorial 
in the New Statesman characterized one of them as "the worst ap- 
pointment since the Emperor Caligula made his horse a proconsul." 
And undoubtedly there has been a tendency for some of the peace- 
time inertia of a ruHng group confident of its position and limited 

® Vilfredo Pareto, The Mind and Society, Harcourt Brace, 4 vols., 1935. On 
the new elite in Germany, see O. G. Villard, "Germany Has Power," Nation, 
Nov. 25, 1939. 


in its perspective, to carry over into war time. Even the entrance of 
Winston Churchill into the Cabinet as the driving force of the war 
government represents not so much the accession of new energy to 
the governing elite as it does the conscription of old energy (since 
Mr. Churchill's formative experience was that of the first World 
War) under the compulsion of popular demand. 

Quest for National Cohesiveness 

The quest for war efficiency is only one of the driving forces in 
changing the forms of state power in war time. Just as important is 
the quest for national cohesiveness and mass support of the govern- 
ment. A totalitarian state can make few structural changes in this 
respect. It has already, even before the war, achieved a unity of gov- 
ernmental structure not by the process of including opposition 
groups in the government but by the process of excluding dissident 
groups from power of any sort. But a government operating under 
democratic forms has three principal devices at its disposal: (i) the 
coalition cabinet, or the creation of a "national" government; (2) 
the political truce; and (3) the integration of the labor movement 
with the war administration. 

The most famous examples of the war coalition government are 
the union sacree in France and the "war cabinet" of Lloyd George 
in Great Britain, both during the first World War. One of the corol- 
laries of such a coalition is a quasi-dictatorial power. The Asquith 
war cabinet, organized in May, 1915, contained members from all 
parties except the Irish Nationalists: but it failed to assume plenary 
powers and had to give way in December, 1916, to the Lloyd George 
coalition, which had no such scruples. The union sacree under Cle- 
menceau operated in essentially the same fashion. In a coalition 
cabinet of this sort, the forces of the Left generally give up more in 
the way of concessions than the forces of the Right. This may ac- 
count, at least in part, for the refusal thus far of the British Labour 
Party to enter the reconstituted Chamberlain-Churchill war cabinet, • 
thus stripping it of any character as a "national government." The 
Labour Party Executive evidently felt that to enter such a cabinet 
would be to tie its hands as an opposition group. For membership 
in a cabinet carries with it, once the cabinet decisions have been 


made, the duty of standing by them or of resigning. After a war is 
over a coaHtion is unHkely to give up wilHngly the power it has 
assumed. The British coaHtion carried on until 1922, refusing to 
disband on the ground that it would be catastrophic to handle the 
difficult peace negotiations and the problems of demobilization and 
reconstruction except in terms of national unity. And the union 
sacree, under the name of the bloc national, won the election again 
in 1919. 

Coalitions are most characteristic of cabinet governments. They 
are far more difficult under the American presidential scheme. Yet 
just as Woodrow Wilson during his early years as a professor advo- 
cated, in his book Congressional Government, a revision of our 
governmental mechanism in the direction of cabinet government, 
so Walter Lippmann has come out in several of his recent columns 
as an advocate of an American coalition cabinet. His premise is that 
a state in a world at war faces problems so grave that no adminis- 
tration that does not possess the confidence of all groups, classes, and 
parties can direct the nation safely in such a crisis. His proposal is 
that President Roosevelt include in a special war cabinet representa- 
tives of the Republican Party and anti-New Deal Democrats. Im- 
plied in the proposal is, of course, the premise that the outbreak of 
the European war must mark the abandonment of the social pro- 
gram of the New Deal in the interests of national unity. And with 
such a premise a very considerable body of American opinion would 
be in disagreement — quite apart from the technical difficulties the 
plan would involve under the American governmental structure. 

This raises the question of the second device — the political truce. 
The British government in the War of 1939 has secured the assent 
of the other major political parties to what amounts to a suspension 
of the regular electoral system: the parties have agreed not to force 
a general election during the duration of the war; and they have 
agreed also that by-elections will not be contested, but that the seats 
will be filled by nominations from the party of the previous incum- 
bent. Much the same arrangement applied during the first World 
War. In effect, it insures the continuance in power for the duration 
of the war of the same government, although not necessarily of the 
same cabinet. It insures a Tory government, which may, however. 


under pressure shift from a cabinet headed by Neville Chamber- 
lain to one headed by Winston Churchill or Lord Halifax. For the 
Opposition this means a surrender of the chance of coming into 
power, short of defeats so disastrous as to cause a revolution in popu- 
lar feeling. But, perhaps paradoxically, it offers some compensations 
in the greater freedom for a Parliamentary Opposition. So long as 
the Government does not fear being forced out as a party, it is likely 
to tolerate a considerable amount of criticism in Parliament. And 
this criticism has been voiced, extending curiously enough to the 
Tory party members themselves, who feel freer to express dissent 
from particular policies of the Government when they know that its 
existence is not at stake. But from the standpoint of the Labour 
Party, it will be interesting to watch whether it can offer a vigorous 
opposition when the final goal of all opposition — the achievement of 
Party power — has been removed. Political experience has in general 
demonstrated that under a party system such a goal, with the office- 
holding and perquisites that it implies, is a necessary carrot held in 
front of a donkey to keep him moving. 

Behind the whole idea of a political truce there is of course the 
driving consideration that no state in war time can afford either 
government by deadlock or the undermining of public confidence 
that may result from the instabiHty of governments and too rapid a 
political succession. The danger on the other side is a clear one: 
that a political truce will go beyond a truce into the region of com- 
plete political homogeneity. That has not happened thus far in Great 
Britain, but it is an ever-present danger in any democracy at war. 
And if it should ever happen it would mean that the only organs 
upon which a democratic society can depend to rescue itself from 
the constrictions of a war period would have become atrophied, 

America has never had the tradition of a party truce during war 
time. The New England FederaHsts, during the War of 1812, came 
close to secession and even to the margin of treason. The outcry 
against the Mexican War was enormous. In the Civil War there was 
the striking spectacle of General McClellan, head of the Union 
armies, scarcely concealing his maneuvers to get the Democratic 
nomination for the Presidency and run against his commander-in- 
chief, Lincoln; and while there was much public agitation against 


Copperheads, the Umits o£ their action were, except in the Vallandig- 
ham case,^ scarcely circumscribed by the government. American 
participation in the World War took place between elections, yet 
the Republicans by no means suspended their activity. Of course, in 
every American war, there has been considerable talk of a political 
truce: but it has never gone beyond the stage of rhetoric. At the 
outbreak of the War of 1939 President Roosevelt, in terms that seem 
strangely contradictory, declared a "qualified emergency" and asked 
for the suspension of partisanship. For a while, like a chicken hypno- 
tized by a snake, the Republicans responded. But even before the 
Neutrality Act was passed, the votes in Congress were shaping up 
fairly sharply along party lines. 

The third device I have mentioned is the integration of the labor 
movement with the war government. So long as the European labor 
movements were part of the Marxian internationals, and imbued 
with more or less of a Socialist outlook, there was a question of 
whether such an integration could be accomplished. The voting of 
war credits by the Socialist Parties in the first World War and the 
decision of labor movements to collaborate with the governments 
in the war represented the turning point on this problem. The labor 
movements in the totalitarian states were of course crushed between 
the wars of 1914 and 1939, and any refusal on their part to collabo- 
rate, whether in Germany or Austria or Czechoslovakia, would 
have been revolutionary treason and punished as such. But in Eng- 
land and France also there was little question at the outbreak of the 
War of 1939 that collaboration would be somehow managed. What 
has happened in England is that not only was a political decision 
taken by the Labour Party to agree to a political truce, but in efFect 
an economic decision has also been taken to submerge class demands 
and workers' needs in the national interest. In France the problem 
was complicated by the greater influence of the Communist Party 
in the Confederation General du Travail, and the new party Hne of 
the Communists toward the war after the Nazi-Soviet Pact. One 
element, clearly, in Premier Daladier's decision to outlaw the Com- 

^ C. L. Vallandigham was a Democratic leader in Ohio who kept up a 
barrage of criticism of the Lincoln administration on the ground that the war 
was "a costly and bloody failure" and who was banished to the Southern lines 
by the order of the Union general in command of the district. 


munists and break up the trade unions in whicli they were sus- 
pected of having influence, was the fear that in no other way could 
he be assured of labor collaboration. 

This indicates the tragic dilemma in which labor movements al- 
ways find themselves in a state at war. On the one hand, they are 
faced with dissolution and suppression by the government, and a 
government, moreover, which is generally able to whip up anti-labor 
feeling, if necessary, among the middle classes and which has the 
armed force of a mobilized state at its disposal. One of Edgar 
Guest's poems, circulated during the first World War by George 
Creel's Committee of Information, read as follows: 

Said the workman to the soldier, 

"I will back you to the last 
No more strikes for higher wages 

Till the danger time is past." 

On the other hand, labor movements are faced with the prospect 
of suspending for the duration of the war their struggle for collec- 
tive bargaining, better living standards, better working standards, 
and democratic control of industry. For war "integration" means 
inevitably the drastic limitation if not the complete outlawry of 
labor's final weapon of the strike. It means, moreover, the entrance 
of Big Business representatives (in America, the "dollar-a-year 
men") into the crucial administrative posts, and the rise of an anti- 
radical hysteria without which patriotism in the modern state does 
not seem to operate at its highest pitch and with the least danger to 
the vested groups. It means an identification ultimately of the em- 
ployer-employee relation with the relation of government and citi- 
zen in war time; and consequently it means that the struggle within 
the economic realm becomes interpretable as a political and even a 
military struggle, and is visited with sanctions ranging from those 
for "interference with the war" and sabotage to those for treason. 

Confronted by such a dilemma, labor under a capitaHst democ- 
racy will, at least for the calculable future, be most likely to choose 
the course of least resistance, even at the expense of living standards 
and labor aims. Even in the United States the issue has already 
arisen in the present war. Robert Bendiner, writing in the Nation 


recently/" reported (without subsequent denials) that the War De- 
partment had already presented tentative plans to the heads of both 
the American Federation of Labor (A.F. of L.) and the Congress 
of Industrial Organizations (C.I.O.), calling for a replacement of 
the strike weapon by mediation machinery in the event of American 
entrance into the war, and for the creation of regulatory agencies in 
which labor would have only an advisory voice. During the first 
World War, the A.F. of L. under Samuel Gompers accepted essen- 
tially similar arrangements, and the degree of their "integration" 
and their collaboration with the war government was fairly complete. 

Civil Liberties and Reform Movements 

What is true of the labor movements in war time is true also of 
the status of civil liberties and social reform movements. They are 
caught in the dilemma of being, on the one hand, unable to use 
their final effective weapons against a crisis state, and, on the other 
hand, fearing to lay them down lest they never be able to take them 
up again. 

Civil liberties are the major victim of the state in war time. The 
state must protect itself against espionage, sabotage, and treason. 
This is especially difficult since the new ideological wars have be- 
come a species of wars of religion, and have enlisted therefore a 
ruthlessness and a zealotry that will go to any lengths to cripple an 
enemy. But the attempt to ferret out such activities leads inevitably 
across the boundary that separates sabotage, espionage, and enemy 
propaganda from political and economic opposition and their ex- 
pression. The result is a complex of espionage laws. Red-hunts, and 
treason laws that often strike at labor organization and liberal and 
radical opposition under the guise of the national defense and the 
national interest. Ever since the Alien and Sedition Laws, America 
has had the experience of reactionary forces operating under a patri- 
otic guise. After the first World War the administration of the 
Department of Justice under A. Mitchell Palmer was an ironic con- 
trast to the liberal ideals of the Wilson government in its first term 
and also to the avowed democratic aims of the Allies in waging the 
war. The Lusk Committee investigation after the first World 

^° "The Army Talks to Lewis and Green," Nov. ii, 1939. 


War is paralleled by the Dies Committee investigation during the 
War of 1939. And the criminal syndicalism laws of the earlier period 
may presage a similar train of repressive legislation in the near 

The most glaring example of the suppression of civil liberties 
under democratic forms in war time is furnished by recent events in 
France. The Daladier government seized the occasion of the Nazi- 
Soviet Pact to outlaw the Communist Party, arrest forty members 
of the Chamber of Deputies, disband trade union organizations and 
seize their funds, and suppress a whole group of newspapers on the 
Left. It would indicate that the Government feels itself too weak 
with respect to mass opinion to risk the open expression of anti- 
Government views, yet at the same time strong enough to carry 
such a program of repression through. 

It is not difficult to understand why a governing group in a war 
state takes such measures. War time implies a shift of the state's 
function on the psychological plane. During peace the task the state 
sets itself is to maintain order and exact obedience. From this stand- 
point the state has a stake in the relative passivity of the individual: 
it is the function of political parties and pressure groups to whip up 
excitement, provided it be kept within a framework of assumptions 
more or less common to all the parties. But in war time the state 
dare not allow a psychological passivity to become established or 
accepted. It must get readiness for action, especially emotional pre- 
paredness for the stress and sacrifices of war. Hence it will generally 
tend to claim a monopoly of propaganda and political expression: 
to allow parties or individuals to engage in whipping up excitement 
except under state direction is to surrender this monopoly and en- 
danger the complete cohesiveness of political opinion. Hence the 
poHtical truces, hence also the limitation of labor action and expres- 
sion, and hence especially the denial of civil liberties and intellectual 

The only trouble with this train of reasoning, as Lytton Strachey 
once remarked of Francis Bacon's reasons for active prosecution in 
the case of his friend the Earl of Essex, is that it should ever have 
been thought of. Once granted the assumption that intellectual and 
emotional mobilization are as necessary as economic and military. 


and that the war emergency gives the state the right to use any means 
in pursuit of its aims, then the rest follows. The granting of the as- 
sumptions is, however, another matter. And the basic confusion 
there, is the confusion between the permanent interests of the state 
and the immediate vested interests of a governing group that seeks 
to use the war as a way of entrenching itself in power. 

When the governing group is progressive and has inaugurated a 
peacetime program of social reform, the outbreak of war will gen- 
erally mean the shelving of such a program. The classic instance in 
American history is the Wilson administration in the first World 
War, which interrupted its fight for the New Freedom under the 
impact of the European war before actual American entrance, and 
was never able to resume it. There are current indications, from the 
absorption of the Roosevelt administration with problems created by 
the war, that something of the same sort would happen to the New 
Deal program in the event of American war participation. War 
does not always have this effect, especially when social reform meas- 
ures may be useful as war moves. Thus Lincoln used the Emanci- 
pation Proclamation to demoralize the South's labor supply, create 
a new reserve of Union troops, and provide a fillip for the lagging 
Northern morale; but he weighed his decision carefully because of 
the adverse effect it would have on the vested interests of the border 
slave-holding states which had remained loyal. And the Spanish 
Government during the Civil War of 1936-1938 sought to carry 
through a program of land reform in order to solidify the support 
of the peasants. But these are exceptional cases. In an unstable or 
transitional economic structure, such as most states today represent, 
a social reform program involves too many risks of internal tension 
that would threaten the national cohesiveness in war. It deflects the 
stream of national energy, moreover, into two channels, and a suc- 
cessful war requires above all a single concentration of purpose. 

But if the progressive social program must itself bog down, the 
peacetime prestige of a progressive government may prove useful 
with the underlying population in the event of war. Progressive 
leaders have often a sensitiveness to the public pulse and a flair for 
popular phrasing which the more dogmatic ruling groups are likely 
to lack, Wilson as a symbol of a possible democratic world-order 


was immensely useful to the Allied prosecution of the World War, 
although he was to prove troublesome to their control of the peace. 
And Mock and Larsen have pointed out, in their absorbing book, 
Words That Won the War}^ how important it was felt to be, when 
America entered the war, to pick as the director of the government 
propaganda agency, the Committee of PubUc Information, someone 
who had already a record of liberalism in thought. And so George 
Creel was chosen. In fact, Creel's career symbohzes in itself the 
trajectory of Wilsonian progressivism in peace and war time. 

The fortunes of the Committee on PubHc Information, as traced 
by Mock and Larsen, illustrate also the ways in which the functions 
of propaganda and censorship which the state assumes in war time 
may affect the class controls within the state. One of the tasks of 
war propaganda rapidly became the mobilization of labor behind 
the government program on the basis of traditional wage scales, 
while living costs and war profits were going sky high. And many 
of the employers were willing to use the Committee in organizing 
middle-class opinion on the basis of the patriotic duty of labor to 
accept the status quo wage and working arrangements and give up 
the strike weapon in the national interest. I have already mentioned 
earlier the tendency in a war administration to have some of the 
strategic economic posts in the government occupied by industrial 
and financial leaders as a patriotic service ("dollar-a-year men"). 
Whatever the intent, the consequence of such a tendency is to shift 
further the class-balance of power, and to make the war an instru- 
ment for the achievement of class rather than national objectives. 

The Drift Toward Totalitarianism in War Time 

There has been considerable discussion recently of the question 
of the inner compulsions of a war administration toward a totali- 
tarian structure. It has been argued especially in those American 
circles that have been steadfastly opposed to European involvements 
that a democratic government in the struggle against Fascism de- 
feats its own purposes by entering a war; for it becomes thereby 
itself virtually a Fascist state. 

It would be difHcult to prove any inevitability of this sort. The 

^■^ Princeton University Press, 1939. 


record o£ both the Lincoln and the Wilson war administrations 
would indicate that while even progressive governments cannot help 
surrendering partly to the drift toward totalitarianism in war time, 
they can minimize that surrender by a creative effort of will. What 
can be clearly said is that war maximizes the opportunities for a 
totalitarian structure: but that the extent to which those opportuni- 
ties are exploited depends upon several important factors. 

One of these factors is the nature and temper of the government 
in power. The Daladier Government in France, fearing its hold 
over mass opinion, evidently decided to exploit the opportunity to 
entrench itself in power and become a virtual dictatorship. Yet 
President Lincoln, perhaps just as sorely tempted in the midst of a 
civil war, maintained amazingly a democratic temper in his admin- 
istration of the war. Lincoln was as little the dictator as he dared be; 
Wilson, for all his personal impatience with opposition, still main- 
tained what was on the whole a government of laws and not of men. 
It is easy to think of any number of American presidents who would 
not have risen to the urgent need for a government in war time 
strong enough "to maintain its own existence." Buchanan comes to 
mind. But it is difficult to think of any American president who 
would have created in war time a government "too strong for the 
liberties of its own people." In short, much depends upon the fabric 
of legality that has been woven over the course of generations; and 
the democratic temper of a national leader even in a war crisis. 

A second factor is the deep-rootedness of the civil liberties tradi- 
tion. As yet the British Government has not gone very far in the 
totalitarian direction of the French. One may guess that it is due, 
among other factors, to the strength of the British civil liberties 

A third factor is the strength of the opposition and its skill in 
organizing popular opinion. Thus it would have been far more 
difficult for Daladier to carry through his repressive measures had 
it not been that the French Communist Party, in following the 
Comintern direction after the Nazi-Soviet Pact, alienated French 
liberal and middle-class opinion and gave an opportunity to Dala- 
dier to depict the Communists in the role of traitors and saboteurs. 
Never is the courage of the opposition more needed than in a de- 
mocracy at war, and never is it more useful socially. True, it finds 


its scope for expression limited, and its opportunities for vigorous 
criticism crippled. Yet here again everything depends on the politi- 
cal habits that have been established. In England not only are the 
Communists still within the bounds of legality, but even such pro- 
gressive organs of opinion as the New Statesman and Time and 
Tide have taken on a vigor of tone which they have not always had 
before. Here as elsewhere c'est le dernier pas qui coute}'^ If a nation 
has never had a strong tradition of giving freedom to opposition 
opinion, then it has been preparing the ground for totalitarianism 
all along; and the war is merely the final push that sends the whole 
structure toppling. 

A fourth factor is expediency. One may again guess that the 
British government is doubly careful not to take measures that 
might be interpreted as suppressive of opposition opinion so long as 
the position of the United States as a neutral is so crucial in the 
outcome of the conflict. 

Perhaps the dangers of the totalitarian trend in war time may be 
best put in terms of the types of mentahty that tend to come to the 
fore in a war administration. The militarist mind — absolutist, au- 
thoritarian, and inflexible — assumes a position of prime importance. 
That is part of the meaning of the constitutional struggle that for 
centuries has been waged in both America and England to keep 
separate areas of civilian and military control in war time. It is the 
meaning, for example, of ex parte Merryman, the famous case in 
which Chief Justice Taney fought to keep the jurisdiction of civilian 
courts free from the encroachments of mihtary tribunals. But even 
more important is the tendency of the military mind to be carried 
over into the conduct of industry, the treatment of labor, and the 
organization of mass opinion. 

Secondly, the patrioteering mind comes to the fore. It is a mind 
which Thorstein Veblen, writing in the midst of the patrioteering 
anti-radical hysteria which followed the first World War in Amer- 
ica, savagely attacked in an essay entitled Dementia Praecox. It 
differs from the patriotic mind in its intolerance, its hysterical pitch, 
and its availability in being used to carry through a repressive 

Thirdly, the bureaucratic mind comes to the fore. The urgencies 

^^ "It is the last step that counts." (literally cotiter = to cost) 


of war are such as to make the exercise of administrative discretion 
a danger and reflective judgment a luxury. Sometimes the Hmita- 
tions of the bureaucratic mind lead to paradoxical results. Thus 
Thorstein Veblen suffered the irony of having George Creel's Com- 
mittee on Information use his book, Imperial Germany and the In- 
dustrial Revolutions^ as grist for its propaganda mills, while the 
United States Post Office Department was holding it up as subver- 
sive doctrine. 

In attempting to appraise the hold of these types of mentality in 
war time, it is necessary to go into the realm of the exploitation of 
the irrational impulses in men that war makes possible. Mr. L. P. 
Jacks, at the outbreak of the first World War, spoke of "the peace- 
fulness of being at war." And it is true that war offers a form of 
release to the intolerable tensions of living in a complex society and 
one in which the individual finds so many of his impulses frus- 
trated. In war the individual becomes finally part of the collective 
mass, taking his place with a certain sense of relief in the great 
hierarchy of state power. In fact, one of the difficult problems of 
psychological analysis is to decide whether in war time, to use the 
language of D. H. Lawrence, the Demos is sleeping or sleep- 

Suggested Readings 

Bourne, Randolph, Untimely Papers, Huebsch, 1919. 

Kallen, H. M., "Of War and Peace," Social Research, Sept., 1939, pp. 

Lerner, Max, // Is Later Than You Thin\, Viking, 1938, chap, 2. 
Mock and Larsen, Words That Won the War, Princeton University 

Press, 1939. 
Mumford, Lewis, Men Must Act, Harcourt Brace, 1939. 
Patten, Simon N., Culture and War, Viking, 1916, 
Report of the Lus\ Committee, 4 vols,, Albany, N. Y., 1920. 
Russell, Bertrand, lustice in War Time, Open Court Pub. Co., 1916. 
Sandburg, Carl, Lincoln :T he War Years, 4 vols., Harcourt Brace, 1939. 
Speier, Hans, and Kahler, Alfred, eds.. War in Our Time, Norton, 1939. 
Thomas, Norman, The Conscientious Objector in America, Viking, 1923. 
Veblen, Thorstein, Imperial Germany and the Industrial Revolution, 

Huebsch, 1915. 
The Nature of Peace, Huebsch, 19 17. , 

"Huebsch, 1915. 




Kalph D. Casey 

Because o£ the debasement of the word during the last war, 
propaganda has taken on a meaning which it does not deserve. 
It is commonly employed as an epithet of derogation and is popu- 
larly used to characterize any presentation of fact, theory, or pro- 
gram with which one disagrees. Many persons feel that propaganda 
is altogether reprehensible. Many fear its influence. As a result of 
this confusion important causes have sometimes been unfairly stig- 
matized by the use of a word which popularly connotes selfishness, 
dishonesty, or subversive action. 

Agnes Repplier once complained:^ "When one looks in the dic- 
tionary for the word 'propaganda,' its definition suggests nothing 
reprehensible. Why should not an organization for 'spreading doc- 
trine or a system of principles' be a decent, candid, and upright 
organization, inviting the attention and challenging the good will 
of mankind?' 'Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide'^ is an au- 
gust, mouth-filling title, inspiring nothing but respect. One of the 

■"^ "A Good Word Gone Wrong," The Independent, Oct. i, 1921, p. 5. 

^ A Commission of Cardinals was set up by Gregory XIII to spread 
Catholicism and to regulate ecclesiastic affairs in heathen lands and in hereti- 
cal areas. In 1622 this commission became the Sacred Congregation de propa- 
ganda fide. This was the first propaganda insdtute. 



ill turns done by the war was the investing of this ancient and 
honorable word with a sinister significance, making it at once a term 
of reproach and the plague and torment of our lives." 

Careful students of propaganda refuse to accept the subjective 
connotations of the word. Ethical and moral concepts are regarded 
as having no real validity if one wishes to be scientific in his ap- 
proach to the problem of determining what is propaganda, nor do 
informed analysts attempt to make arbitrary and idealistic distinc- 
tions between "education" and "propaganda," although the view 
that the two differ in the transmission and control of "accepted" as 
opposed to "controversial" attitudes has value.^ Experts are wary 
of characterizing emotion-laden appeals as propaganda and those 
burdened with logical arguments as non-propagandistic. 

The etymological definition of propaganda frees the word from 
the pernicious connotation. The New English Dictionary on His- 
torical Principles describes it as "any association, systematic scheme, 
or connected movement for the propagation of a particular doctrine 
or practice."^ Even the Institute for Propaganda Analysis, whose 
whole effort is built on the theory that the ordinary individual can 
be trained to act on the merits of the facts if apprised of the work- 
ings of propaganda, in defining propaganda makes no attempt to 
place "socially-desirable" promotional effort in one watertight com- 
partment and propaganda detrimental to the interests of "the ma- 
jority of the people" in another. As generally understood, says the 
Institute, propaganda is expression of opinion or action by individ- 
uals or groups deliberately designed to influence opinions or actions 
of other individuals or groups with reference to predetermined ends? 

Many present-day students of the propaganda phenomenon con- 
tent themselves with the statement that propaganda is an organized 
effort to accomplish a social change by suggestion. Still others prefer 
to think of propaganda in terms of symbols — words and word sub- 
stitutes — which are managed in such a way as to control the attitudes 

' See Harold D. Lasswell and Dorothy Blumenstock, World Revolutionary 
Propaganda, Knopf, 1939, p. 10. 

* Quoted by Fred S. Siebert in "Freedom of Propaganda," Journalism Quar- 
terly, March, 1935, pp. 27-28. 

^ Propaganda Analysis, Vol, i of the publications of the Institute for Propa- 
ganda Analysis, Inc. 


and actions of groups of persons. Both schools are of the opinion 
that propaganda can be used to describe the influences that are 
exerted openly and legitimately, as well as those that are used secretly 
and illegitimately.*" 

Miss Lucy Salmon gives support to this view. She points out that 
the various grades of propaganda "shade into each other almost im- 
perceptibly."^ At one extreme is the propaganda whose function 
"has become one of perverting opinion and of converting to false- 
hood."® At the other, the honest and above-board promotion of an 
idea or program. In the usual sense in which these words are used, 
propaganda can be utilized in the promotion of "good" as well as 
"bad" causes. 

But it should always be borne in mind that those who make use 
of suggestion and who manipulate symbols have an objective in 
mind. "The differentia of a propaganda," remarks Major Peter C. 
Mitchell, "is that it is self-seeking, whether the object be worthy or 
unworthy, intrinsically, or in the minds of its promoters."^ More- 
over, the matter of acceptance is all important. Richard S. Lambert 
points up this aspect of propaganda with the remark: "For it is of 
the essence of propaganda that it should influence persons to do or 
to think things which they would not do or think if left to them- 

In other words, the propagandist attempts through the use of pro- 
motion to achieve some goal. Goals can be achieved and social 
changes induced by violence, boycott, bribery, and similar means of 
social control, as Lasswell points out.-^^ Propaganda achieves its re- 
sults through suggestion and persuasion. Less subtle forms of attain- 
ing objectives require resort to physical threats, bullets, bribes, or 

PubHc opinion is evoked and formulated by propaganda; com- 

^ In the limits of this discussion, the writer cannot analyze the social dangers 
of propaganda in irresponsible hands, nor the exploitation of human emotions 
through its use. 

"^ The Newspaper and Authority, Oxford, 1923, p. 310. 

® Ibid., p. 309. 

® "Propaganda," Encyclopaedia Britannica, 12th Edition (1922), p. 176. 

■^° Propaganda, Nelson, 1938, p. 9. 

^^ Harold D. Lasswell. "The Study and Practice of Propaganda" in Lass- 
well, Casey, and Smith, Propaganda and Promotional Activities, University of 
Minnesota Press, 1935, p. 3. 


modities are sold by resort to the same means; health, educational, 
and social welfare campaigns succeed through propaganda drives; 
wars are launched, fought, and terminated with the propagandist 
playing as important a role as the military and naval forces and the 
economic ministries. 

The Social Bases of Propaganda 

Today's intense preoccupation with propaganda is a significant 
thing in itself. Even before the outbreak of the War of 1939 a vigor- 
ous, if not always an understanding, interest in propaganda had 
arisen in this country. Without doubt our present consciousness of 
propaganda has resulted, in part, from learning about the methods 
of the dictatorships in mobiUzing opinion. Displeasure over the 
practices of the dictators and anxiety for the fate of democracy have 
actuated many of us to pursue knowledge about propaganda. Har- 
wood L. Childs has cited other reasons why our interest has been 

"The coincidence of Allied success and strenuous propaganda 
activity during the War," he writes, "the biographical revelations of 
super-shrewdness on the part of pubHc personages, the claims of 
some advertisers and professional propagandists, to say nothing of 
the academic theses and formulas to explain past events, have re- 
sulted in a marked glorification of the art of opinion leadership."^^ 

Those who are inclined to make a fad of propaganda and who see 
in it a new social mechanism or strategy which arrived full-bloomed 
during the World War should bear in mind that "the creation of 
consent is not a new art." In the contemporary period the technical 
means for controlling men's minds has enormously expanded and 
the modern social system requires that many more persons be con- 
sulted (even though nominally) before a given line of policy can be 
adopted. Government propaganda is no modern thing. "In all ages 
governments, parties and special interests have hired or subsidized 
editorial writers or pamphleteers to attack the opposition cause and 
to praise their own."^^ Official propaganda has been resorted to from 
time immemorial. 

■^^ Childs (ed.) Propaganda and Dictatorship, Princeton University Press, 
1936, p. 4. 

^^Will Irwin, "An Age of Lies," Sunset Magazine, December, 1919, pp. 


Bertrand Russell remarks: 

Herodotus was in the pay of the Athenian state, which accounts 
for the fact that Athens comes out of his history with so much glory. 
In the wars of the Guelphs and Ghibellines, the victory of the for- 
mer was due to the fact that the Pope, through the medium of the 
friars, outdid the Emperor in the organization of official propa- 
ganda. At the time of the Spanish Armada, both Phillip II and 
Elizabeth organized in quite a modern way. Phillip IPs activities in 
this line are exemplified by Cardinal Allen's "Admonition to the 
Nobility and People of England and Ireland," accusing Queen Eliza- 
beth of every imaginable vice (quoted in Frederick Chamberlain's 
"Private Character of Queen Elizabeth"). The British popular hor- 
ror of the Spanish Inquisition no doubt is derived from English 
Government propaganda during Elizabeth's reign. Historians and 
literary men are always taking part in the work; "Henry VIII" is 
propaganda for Elizabeth and "Macbeth" for James I, who appears 
as a descendant of Banquo wearing a triple crown.-*^^ 

The significant fact concerning the use to which propaganda was 
put by governments in 1914-1918 and in the War of 1939 was not 
that it had never before been resorted to on an organized scale. The 
real phenomenon was the extraordinary intensity and expansion of 
propaganda under a wartime regime and the skill with which the 
Allies in particular made it a part of the whole strategy of coercing 
the enemy in the World War. 

Yet this should not have produced profound amazement. The 
social situation provided a fertile ground for large-scale management 
of opinion and technicians were already experienced in the manipu- 
lation of symbols to control attitudes. Popular education, manhood 
suffrage, and the spread of democracy generally, the growth of capi- 
talism, and the expansion of industry and technology had already 
played their part in the development of propaganda in the ante- 
World War period. To get their appeals before the public, special 
groups, organizations, and governments had long availed themselves 
of modern mechanical inventions to transmit information and mis- 
information over a wide area. Propagandists already possessed a 
greater weapon than mere intuitive knowledge of the springs that 
move mankind. Researches in psychology had given them a scientific 

" "Government by Propaganda" in These Eventful Years, Vol. II, Encyclo- 
pedia Britannica, 1924 ed., p. 380. 


knowledge and understanding of how opinions and attitudes could 
be formed, prejudices established, and passions inflamed. 

The twentieth century is peculiarly the era of universal education. 
Masses of people possess the tools of knowledge, if not the spirit of 
it. They can read, even if they cannot universally exercise the critical 
faculty. Elementary education has created nations of citizens inter- 
ested in a larger world than that encompassed by their home and 
their own immediate experience. They had long been subjected to 
appeals by interested persons who make use of the expanded net- 
work of the communication agencies to bridge distance and induce 
a common acceptance of attitudes. 

While free education had given the masses of people the ability to 
read, popular suffrage had granted them the right to vote and thus 
to exercise influence. The broadening of the base of political power 
had long necessitated an expansion of propaganda in politics. Since 
political leaders under modern conditions could not govern as for- 
merly through the intrigue of a ruling class or the manipulation of 
political conventions, they had been compelled to devote more time, 
money, and attention to propaganda as a means of winning popular 
support and retaining themselves in office. 

Viscount Bryce observed the relation of propaganda to politi- 
cal movement in International Relations: 

All modern propaganda efforts spring out of the emancipation of 
the masses of the people from the control of their former rulers and 
the consequent desire to capture public opinion. As long as the mon- 
archs had the whole or even the usually predominant power, it was 
not the peoples who were thought of, but the sovereign. That is to 
say, modern propaganda is an attempt to turn to account that de- 
liverance of the peoples from the habit of unreasoning obedience 
which made the masses, formerly indifferent to politics, acquiescent 
in whatever international action their government chose to take.^^ 

And he warned pertinently: "Propaganda can create a fanaticism 
which may be just as unreasoning as, and more dangerous than, 
obedience used to be."^^ 

Although domestic political propaganda is less violent and tends 
less to the arousal of unbridled passion, it does not make wide use 

^^ Macmillan, 1922, p. 24. 


o£ logical arguments and logical influences in campaign time. The 
class of experts who rose in the early part of the century to serve in 
the pohtical entourages as paid publicity men were adepts at reach- 
ing the psychological interests of the common man long before field 
guns spoke on the Western Front. In this country the up-to-date 
political pubHcity bureau had been built on the framework of Mark 
Hanna's organized propaganda division. The candidate no longer 
depended upon his own oratory and a steeplechase tour across the 
country. The propagandist put printing press, direct mail, and many 
other agencies of promotion to work to diminish the barrier between 
the candidate and the people. 

The success of the specialized art of implanting political attitudes 
was not lost on the war propagandist when it came his turn to touch 
ofl the springs of action by appealing to popular passions. Moreover, 
he could profit from the propaganda experience of those who had 
worked in the economic and social spheres. 

The very complexity of the material environment of Western 
society at the time of the war had called into play extensive measures 
for deaHng with public opinion. Out of modern industry, com- 
merce, transportation, and finance had arisen a myriad of specialized 
activities, many of them in conflict. Business, industrial, and finan- 
cial organizations, agricultural groups, chambers of commerce, labor 
unions, social service and philanthrop